BEAUMONT, Texas – Laura Napoli allowed one hit over 5 2/3 innings as the Lamar University Cardinals ran their winning streak to seven games with a 10-2 victory over visiting Houston Baptist on Saturday to sweep their three-game Southland Conference softball series.
Napoli (6-6) worked the first four innings leaving with an 8-0 lead, only to be pressed back into service with one out in the top of the fifth after reliever Amie Cisneros struggled. Napoli entered with the score 8-2 and with runners on second and third. The junior right-hander got out of the jam as third baseman Shelby Hughston started a nifty 5-3-2 double play, with first baseman Paige Holmes throwing out Kay Schroeder, who tried to score from third on the play.
LU (13-13 overall, 6-0 Southland) added a run in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Hughston to make it 9-2. Napoli retired the HBU side in order in the top of the sixth before LU closed out the game via the run rule in the bottom of the sixth when Sable Hankins singled home Brynn Baca with the bases loaded.
Napoli allowed just the one hit and walked just one while striking out three as she picked up her second win of the weekend. Napoli pitched a complete game in a 4-2 win over HBU in the nightcap of Friday’s doubleheader.
“Laura was absolutely amazing today,” LU coach Holly Bruder said. “She has pitched well the last two weekends. This is definitely the best I have seen her pitch in a while.”
The LU offense provided Napoli with plenty of support on Saturday, pounding out 10 hits and taking advantage of seven walks, a hit batter and four HBU errors.
LU jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first as Ashley McDowell and Brittany Rodriguez led off with walks and advanced on Baca’s sacrifice bunt. McDowell scored on an RBI grounder by Kelly Meeuwsen.
The Cardinals added four runs in the second, with Baca producing a two-run single. The Cardinals made it 8-0 in the fourth, scoring three runs in the inning as the Huskies (7-12, 0-6) made three errors in the frame.
HBU prolonged the game with its two runs in the top of the fifth, but it was too little, too late, as the Cardinals went on to win by the rule for the second time this season and to improve to 14-1 all-time against HBU, including 12-0 at home.
“Our hitters made some good adjustments today,” Bruder said. “We also got strong defense today behind Laura. That was something we worked on all week in practice.
“A sweep for the second straight week in conference play is huge. Beating a team in a walk-off mercy rule in the third game of a series is a good feeling.”
Hughston and Corina Thornton had two hits apiece for LU. Baca went 1-for-1, drew a walk and was hit by a pitch as she now has reached base in 18 straight games, the ninth-longest streak in program history.
HBU starter Emily Mueller (3-8) took the loss, allowing three hits and five runs, four earned, over two innings. She walked four and did not register a strikeout.
Brooke Bushman had two of HBU’s five hits.
STANDINGS: The Cardinals are tied with McNeese atop the conference standings at 6-0, one game ahead of both Nicholls and Abilene Christian at 5-1.
UP NEXT: The Cardinals host UTSA in a non-conference game at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the LU Softball Complex. The LU coaching staff will conduct a free youth skills clinic after the game. LU then travels to Stephen F. Austin for a three-game Southland Conference series next Friday and Saturday.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Cardinals are now 37-10 at the LU Softball Complex since its opening in the 2015 season.
TICKETS: For tickets for all LU home games, call 409-880-1715, or visit www.LamarCardinals.com/SoftballTickets. Tickets are also available at the LU ticket office, located in the Montagne Center, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Tickets will be available at the ticket window at the LU Softball Complex starting one hour prior to first pitch.
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