Cards relegated to third seed after dropping series

Published 6:31 pm Saturday, May 6, 2017

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT — The Lamar Cardinals couldn’t overcome five errors and a lack of timely hitting as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the visiting Nicholls State Colonels in a Southland Conference game Saturday afternoon.

The loss means the Cardinals (27-26 overall, 17-10 Southland) will be the No. 3 seed in next week’s Southland Conference Tournament, while Nicholls (35-18, 19-8) earned the No. 2 seed and the first-round bye that goes along with it.

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“You’re not going to win many games when you make five errors and get only three hits,” LU coach Holly Bruder. “Especially when you’re playing a quality team. We gave them too many extra bases and opportunities, and they took advantage of that.”

Nicholls had threats in each of the first four innings, but LU starter Ciara Luna managed to wiggle out of trouble each time, as the Colonels stranded eight runners over the first four frames. Meanwhile, the Cardinals, who had just one hit over the first three innings off Nicholls starter Megan Landry (14-7), finally got their offense going in the bottom of the fourth.

After Landry retired the first two LU batters in the fourth, Sable Hankins walked and moved to third on Kelly Meeuwsen’s single to right field. Meeuwsen stole second before Maddy Myers ripped a shot down the third-base line for a two-run double.

Nicholls got on the board in the fifth inning Jessica Taylor’s sacrifice fly scored Amanda Gianelloni to cut the LU lead to 2-1.

Laura Napoli came on in relief to start the sixth inning for LU but could only retire one of the four batters she faced, being charged with two runs (11-10). Luna came back in to finish the game for LU.

The Cardinals went down on order in the sixth and seventh innings as for the second straight year Nicholls enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed while LU is the No. 3 seed.

“We have a good chance of seeing Nicholls again in the tournament,” Bruder said. “We know what to expect from them, but we need to do a better job of executing and making adjustments.”

The loss was especially tough for the Cardinals on Senior Day, as LU paid tribute to Luna, Brynn Baca and Ashley McDowell, who played their final home games in an LU uniform.

“It would have been nice to win on Senior Day, especially for three players who have meant so much to this program,” Bruder said. “But their careers aren’t over yet. We’re going to the conference tournament for the fourth time in the five years of the program. I’m proud of that, and they still have the chance to do something special.

The Cardinals will face sixth-seeded Northwestern State in the first game of the Southland Conference Tournament at 11 a.m.Wednesday at Farris Field on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark. The winner of that game faces second-seeded Nicholls at 4 p.m. Wednesday, while the loser would play at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the double-elimination event. McNeese is the top seed.

The Cardinals swept Northwestern State in a three-game conference series earlier this season at the LU Softball Complex.

“I know it’s a long drive to Conway, but I’d love to see our fans at the tournament,” Bruder said. “We need their support.”

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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