HUNTSVILLE – Lindsey McLeod made three early Sam Houston State runs stand up with five perfect innings of relief on Saturday, leading the Bearkats to a 4-2 series-clinching win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at the Bearkat Softball Complex.
The Kats (18-21, 9-9 SLC) pushed across three runs in the first two innings and got multi-hit efforts from both Tori Koerselman and Kaitlynn Dawson and played errorless defense behind the pitching combo of Tayler Atkinson and McLeod.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (7-28, 2-13 SLC) made things interesting in the early going, getting five hits in the first three frames and pushed across a pair of runs before McLeod entered in a third-inning jam and was perfect the rest of the way. The sophomore punched out eight Islanders and retired all 15 hitters she faced in five innings of relief to earn her second win of the weekend and her eighth of the season.
For the weekend McLeod finished with a 2-0 record and struck out 19 hitters in 16.0 innings of work, giving up just three hits without a walk or run allowed.
The Islanders got a solid effort from starting pitcher Liz Carter, who did not walk a batter and struck out three, but fell to 6-14 for the year in a comlete-game effort.
The win also pushes the Bearkats into a tie with Southeastern Louisiana for fifth place in the league with three regular-season weekends left to play.
Sam Houston will close out its home portion of the schedule next weekend when it hosts Abilene Christian in a three-game set beginning with a doubleheader on Friday.
It took just two pitches for Sam Houston to put immediate pressure on the Islanders in their first at-bat of the game as Tori Koerselman bunted her way on base with a single on the first pitch from Carter and one pitch later she moved up to second with her 13th stolen base of the season. Two batters later TAMUCC was its own worst enemy as third baseman Aspen Auger misfired on her throw to first on a bunt try from Codi Carpenter, allowing Koerselman to score and give the Kats a 1-0 lead.
Koerselman was involved in another scoring inning for Sam Houston one frame later as the Kats upped their lead to 3-0 with a pair of runs off of Carter. Megan McDonald opened the frame with a sure single and Samantha Belongia kept the inning alive with a two-out single as well. That put a pair of runners on for Koerselman who fought off a pair of 0-2 pitches before splitting the right-center field gap for a two-run double.
The Islanders were able to answer an inning later, opening the frame with three straight singles, the third coming from Kandace Johnson to score Lexi Shaw and get TAMUCC on the board. They got one more across with Mackinzee Griebel beat a throw from shortstop to make it a 3-2 game, prompting the Kats to go to the pen for McLeod. The sophomore came on with runners on the corners and two outs and promptly struck out the first two hitters she faced before getting Megan Mitchell to pop out to end the threat and keep Sam Houston in front.
The Kats went in search of some insurance in the sixth and got just that in an inning that started with singles from both Megan Crosby and Kaitlynn Dawson. They got the insurance courtesy of the second Islander error of the day when McDonald tried to move the runners up with a sacrifice bunt, but for the second time on the day the throw at first went past the first base bag and up the line, allowing Crosby to come home with the fourth Bearkat run of the day.