SOFTBALL: Cardinals open with win, close in defeat

Published 9:56 pm Saturday, April 14, 2018

CONWAY – Laura Napoli pitched a complete-game victory in the opener as the Lamar Cardinals split a doubleheader with the host Central Arkansas Bears on a blustery Saturday afternoon in Southland Conference softball action on Saturday.

The Cardinals (24-20 overall, 9-8 Southland) were 5-2 winners in the first game before Central Arkansas (21-19, 10-7) posted an 8-5 win in the nightcap.

Game 1

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The Cardinals took advantage of three Central Arkansas errors to build a 5-0 lead after two innings and held on to win the opener.

The early runs were more than enough for senior right-hander Napoli (12-10), who worked the first five innings before returning in the seventh to register her 52nd career win. Napoli allowed eight hits and two runs, both earned, over six innings. She walked two and struck out two. Julia Voluntad pitched a scoreless sixth inning before giving way to Napoli after the first two batters in the seventh reached base.

LU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Kelly Meeuwsen reached on a two-out throwing error before scoring on a dropped pop fly.

The Cardinals erupted for four runs in the second inning to break the game open. Maddy Myers singled home Shelby Henderson to make it 2-0 before Shelby Hughston’s double to left-center plated Corina Thornton and sent Myers to third. LU added two more runs in the inning on another infield error to make it 5-0.

Central Arkansas scored both of its runs in the fifth inning as Kate Myers put an end to Napoli’s shutout bid with an RBI double before Kaylyn Shepherd followed with an RBI single. Napoli retired the next two Central Arkansas batters to end the threat.

Myers had two hits, including one of LU’s three doubles. Hughston and Shannon Klaus had the other two-baggers for the Cardinals.

Rio Sanchez (8-6) pitched a complete game in taking the loss for the Bears. Sanchez allowed six hits and five runs, two earned. She walked one and struck out three.

“We took advantage of some errors, and Laura did a good job of holding them,” LU coach Holly Bruder said. “We made some big plays on defense.”

Game 2

Savana Guidry had three hits for the Cardinals, but LU couldn’t hold on to a pair of early one-run leads in a game that saw both teams collect 11 hits.

The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Guidry led off the game with a single before eventually scoring on a wild pitch. Central Arkansas responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first before the Cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the top of the third as Meeuwsen and Taylor Davis each had a sacrifice fly.

Central Arkansas tied it at 3 in the bottom of the third when Libby Morris had an RBI double down the left-field line off LU starter Taylor Gruell. That ended the day for Gruell, who did not factor in the decision.

The Bears took the lead for good with two runs in the bottom of the fourth off LU reliever Erin Kyle to make it 5-3. The Cardinals got a run back in the top of the fifth as Meeuwsen led off with a single and later scored. The Cardinals left the bases loaded in the top of the sixth as Meeuwsen’s shot to left field was hauled in just short of the fence.

The Bears made it 8-4 in the bottom of the sixth as an infield single and a walk spelled the end of the day for Kyle.  Kate Myers greeted Voluntad with a wind-aided three-run HR to right-center to give the Bears some insurance.

LU did not go down without a fight in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with nobody out. Sanchez came on in relief and allowed only one of the inherited runners to score as Elizabeth Castillo’s fielder’s choice plated Tristin Anders.

Rachel Haberman (5-2), the second of three Central Arkansas pitchers used, got the win despite allowing eight hits over 2 1/3 innings. Haberman allowed two runs, both earned. She walked one and struck out one. UCA starter Maddie Prough went 3 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and three runs, two earned. Sanchez pitched a hitless inning of relief for her second save.

Gruell allowed six hits and three runs, one earned, in two-plus innings for LU. Kyle (0-1) took the loss, surrendering three hits and four runs, all earned, in three innings. She walked four and struck out one. Voluntad gave up two hits and one run in 1/3 of an inning. Amie Cisneros retired both batters she faced.

The Cardinals stranded nine runners, while the Bears left eight.

Klaus, Meeuwsen and Talley had two hits each for LU.

“I wasn’t pleased with our pitching in the second game,” Bruder said. We used four pitchers. We had 11 hits in a game, which should be good enough to win.

“Traditionally, the first day of a series hasn’t been good for us, so once again we put ourselves in a tough situation of having to win the final game on their turf to take the series.”



The Cardinals are in eighth place in the conference, a half-game ahead of Sam Houston State, and a half-game behind Abilene Christian. The top eight teams qualify for next month’s Southland Conference Tournament.



The Cardinals and Bears play the final contest of the three-game series at noon Sunday. The temperature is expected to be 45 degrees, with winds at about 20 mph. The Cardinals return home to host defending champion McNeese State in a three-game series next weekend. The teams will play a doubleheader at 5 p.m. Friday and a single game at 3 p.m. Saturday.



Napoli now has 268 career strikeouts, one behind Ciara Luna’s school record of 269 … Meeuwsen boosted career total to 99 RBI as she looks to become just the second player in program history with 100 RBI. Ashley McDowell holds the school mark with 107 RBI.