SAN ANTONIO – Northwestern State softball begins the home stretch of the season this week looking to continue building on the momentum it has started to gather across the past few weeks.
The Lady Demons (20-17, 6-6) finish a seven-game road stretch with their longest conference road trip of the season at UIW (11-22-1, 3-9), starting with Friday’s 5 p.m. doubleheader and ending on Saturday at 1 p.m. All games will be broadcast on ESPN+.
After a 9-1 win at Grambling in their final midweek game of the year, NSU enters the stretch of 12 straight conference games to close the season looking to continue its upward trend of quality performances in all phases of the game.
The offense has had eight or more hits in four of the past seven games, the pitching staff has allowed two runs or less in five of the past seven and the defense have made one error of fewer in five of the past seven games as well.
All three came together in the win at Grambling, bolstered by the three double, three RBI, three runs scored performance from Taylor Williams in the two-spot in the lineup, and supported by the six-innings of three-hit work from Maggie Darr in the circle.
“Both her (Williams) and Bailie (Ragsdale) have done a really good job of getting on base the past few weeks,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “And not just that either they’ve had some extra-base hit during that time as well. For them to do that makes our lineup deeper and I’m hoping the offense continues to trend up like they have. It’s gotten a lot better over the past few weeks and we just need to continue that trend as we head into these last few weeks.”
Compared to the first 18 games of the season, NSU has a higher batting average, more hits and a better on-base percentage in the most recent 18 game, but now the focus turns to doing things at a high level more regularly.
“We’re a really talented team but we’ve got to go out and prove it each day and be consistent with it,” Pickett said. “If we’re able to get all three phases going right like we want it as we go down the stretch that’s what you want as a coach. A lot of time in this conference it’s about how you finish the season and hopefully we understand we have a big opportunity here in this last month to build a lot of momentum going into the tournament”
Starting with this weekend’s series against UIW, three of NSU’s final four series of the year are against teams that are at or below .500 in the conference standings.
The Cardinals have lost eight straight games entering the weekend, after being swept by second-place Southeastern and dropping a midweek at Prairie View A&M 6-2. UIW had early leads on the Lions in two of the three games, but were unable to hold on to their edge, despite scoring 17 runs across three games in the series.
“We’ve got a big test this weekend,” Pickett said. “It’s the longest conference trip we’ll make this season and hopefully we go in there, build on what we’re doing and keep doing the things we have been the last two or three weeks and hopefully we can come out with a series win.”
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