Senior's Brooke Boening, Paige Cavallin, Jordan Palmer and Kylie Roos celebrated senior day with a victory as the Northwestern State softball team defeated Southland Conference foe Sam Houston State 5-4 Sunday afternoon in the regular season finale at the Lady Demon Diamond.
"I couldn't have asked for a better group of seniors to spend my career with," said Roos. "I've played a couple different roles, as a pitcher and a hitter, so this has been a great team to be a part of."
Roos (14-3) threw a complete game on Sunday, striking out six and allowing eight hits.
After being picked to finish sixth in the regular season, the Lady Demons (37-12 overall, 18-7 SLC) finished second in the Southland and will act as the No. 2 seed at the Southland Conference softball tournament, hosted by NSU May 9-11 at the Lady Demon Diamond. Sam Houston State (31-22 overall, 17-10 SLC), who was picked to finish first, holds possession of the third seed in the tournament and will face off with the No. 6 seeded Southeastern Louisiana (31-20 overall, 13-13 SLC).
With the No. 2 seed, NSU receives a bye in the first round.
"Clinching the second seed in the tournament just goes to show how great of a year we've had," said head coach Donald Pickett. "The team has worked hard for this and I'm really proud of them."
The Lady Demons didn't waste any time in today's game as they picked up two runs in the first inning. Lead-off Tara Mckenney and Cali Burke each singled and brought up Brianna Rodriguez with no outs.
Rodriguez doubled to left center, sending McKenney home and Burke to third.
The double by Rodriguez marks the 18th of the season for her, tying Becca Allen's second place mark, set in 1997, in the NSU individual season record book. Brandy Kennedy is the all-time leader in individual season doubles as she recorded 22 in the 1998 season.
Cassandra Barefield also singled following Rodriguez's double and sent Burke home, giving the Lady Demons the 2-0 lead.
Barefield homered in the third to increase the lead to 3-0. The Houston, Texas, native has sent 14 home runs over the fence this season as she holds down third place in the NSU individual season record book. Shay Hunt's 16 homers in 2005 hold the No. 2 position.
The Bearkats would not go quietly as Tiffany Castillo singled to right field in the fourth with runners on first and second to put one on the board.
NSU answered back in the bottom of the fourth as Palmer reached on catcher's interference. Shenequia Abby laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Palmer to second to being up McKenney.
McKenney doubled to left to score Palmer, followed by a RBI single from Burke to put the Lady Demons up 5-1.
Sam Houston State had a huge sixth inning and gave NSU the scare as Castillo grabbed a RBI-double and her sister Cecilia Castillo sent a two-run homer to center field to bring the Bearkats within one.
SHSU could only muster a three-up, three-down performance in the seventh, giving the Lady Demons the win.
Barefield led from the plate going two-for-three and picking up two RBI, followed by Burke posting a two-for-three performance and one RBI.
The Lady Demons will begin their Southland Conference tournament play against the winner of the Sam Houston v. SLU game on Thursday at 6:30 at the Lady Demon Diamond.
The tournament will be sponsored in part by the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission. Shops, restaurants and other attractions are waiting for visitors in the Natchitoches historic district.
All tournament games will be streamed through the Southland Conference Digital Network, and the championship game will be broadcasted on ESPN3.
All NSU games throughout the tournament will be broadcasted on the Demon Sports Network, flagshipped by 100.7 KZBL FM in Natchitoches.