LAKE CHARLES, La. – The Sam Houston State Bearkats needed a win to keep their season alive on Wednesday, and got just that with a 6-0 win over second-seeded Stephen F. Austin at Cowgirl Diamond in an elimination game of the Southland Conference Tournament.
The Kats (24-32) will get the rest of the night off before returning to the field to face No. 4 Southeastern Louisiana in another elimination game at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. The winner will move on to take on the loser of No. 1 Nicholls and No. 3 McNeese at 4:00 p.m. for a spot in the championship series on Friday.
It was sweet revenge for Sam Houston, eliminating the Ladyjacks (31-22) behind 11 strikeouts from starter Lindsey McLeod in a complete-game effort after SFA had taken two of three from the Kats in the regular-season series. It marked the second team in as many days the Bearkats have eliminated from the postseason who claimed the regular-season series.
Codi Carpenter had a pair of hits in the game and the Kats picked up nine overall against all-SLC pitcher Makayla Sikes, including a two-run homer by Brooke Malia in the bottom of the fifth that gave Sam Houston a 4-0 lead.
McLeod allowed just five base runners in the game, including two walks and three base hits, winning in complete-game fashion for the second straight game. Sikes struck out just one hitter and allowed six runs in 6.0 innings to fall to 18-10 for the year.
The Kats used three SFA errors in the third inning to get the first run of the game home as Katie Andrie scored for the first of two times in the game on a throwing error by Ladyjack catcher Taylor Fraccastoro.
Meanwhile, McLeod would strike out four hitters over the next two innings before the Kats added on again in the fifth. Singles by Andrie and Sheridan Fisher had a pair of runners on base with just one away, and Tiffany Thompson upped the lead to 2-0 by shooting an RBI single to right field. One batter later Malia broke it open, blasting a pitch from Sikes over the spectator pavilion in left-center field for her fifth homer of the year, a two-run shot that made it a 4-0 game.
Two more punchouts for McLeod followed in a scoreless sixth, and then she got two more runs to work with an inning later in the sixth. Each of the first two Kats of the inning reached on a single by Carpenter and a fielder’s choice, but Sikes was able to retire each of the next two hitters. But Taylor Fuselier then made sure the opportunity was not wasted, hitting a two-run, pinch-hit triple to right field to salt the game away.