HOUSTON – The Sam Houston State Bearkats knew going into the weekend that a sweep of Houston Baptist would clinch a berth in next week's Southland Conference Tournament, and on Saturday they did just that, picking up a 3-2 win over the Huskies in the series finale at Husky Field.
The series sweep assures the Kats (23-25, 14-13 SLC) of a trip next week to Conway, Ark., and the Southland Conference Tournament with seeding to be determined at the end of play on Saturday. The Kats will play on Day 1 of the tournament on Wednesday either at 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m.
Hannah Marino delivered a pair of two-out RBI hits and reached base all three times she came to the plate on Saturday, driving in all three Bearkat runs. Megan McDonald also had a pair of hits form the leadoff spot and scored twice in leading a six-hit Bearkat attack.
Meanwhile, Lindsey McLeod picked up her second win of the weekend and moved to 11-7 on the season with sterling relief, retiring all 12 hitters she faced after entering in the fourth while striking out five.
Emily Mueller tossed her second straight complete game for the Huskies (17-26, 8-19 SLC), but was touched up for three runs in the first three frames which was all Sam Houston would need.
The Bearkats wasted little time getting on the board in their first trip to the plate, needing just two pitches to get Megan McDonald into scoring position after she bunted her way on to start the game and moved up on a sacrifice from Tiffany Thompson. Two batters later Hannah Marino got her home, lining an RBI single into the left-center field gap to put the Kats up 1-0.
HBU answered right back in the bottom of the first, getting something going when Cecilia Bauer got on with a one-out walk. Kassie James then roped a double into the left-field corner and one batter later Nicole Shedd tied things up at 1-1 when she lifted a successful sacrifice fly into left field to score Bauer.
After both teams went quietly in the second, singles from Samantha Belongia and McDonald quickly gave the Bearkats something work with in the third. But HBU starter Emily Mueller got two big outs before Marino got to her again. The Bearkat designated player worked the count full before shooting another two-out single back up the middle, scoring a pair to give Sam Houston a 3-1 advantage.
The bottom half of the inning saw HBU answer back once again, though, with a run to cut it to 3-2. Singles from Heidi Jaquez and Bauer with one out in the inning set up James who lofted a fly to right field where Belongia made the play; however, both runners attempted to advance on the play and an errant throw to third allowed Jaquez to score to trim the Sam Houston lead to just a run.
The Bearkats will now turn their attention to next week's Southland Conference Tournament, set to begin Wednesday in Conway Ark. Seeding is will be finalized following the conclusion of the league slate on Saturday.