LCU sweeps Southwest with two walk-off run-rules

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PINEVILLE, La. – The Louisiana Christian University softball team built up big leads in both of its games against University of the Southwest and got the final runs to end them in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Wildcats took both games over the Mustangs by identical 11-3 scores Saturday afternoon at Wildcat Park.

Game 1 – Southwest 3, Louisiana Christian 11 (5 innings)

The Wildcats were able to strand a Southwest runner at third in the top of the first, and then LCU got in the board in the bottom half of the inning in a rather inauspicious fashion. Emma Hunt led off with a base hit through the right side. She stole second, was sacrificed over to third by Lexie Marks, and then scored when the Mustangs catcher overthrew the pitcher returning a pitched ball for the 1-0 lead.

LCU would find itself trailing when it came to bat in the bottom of the second inning after USW scored a pair of unearned runs in the top of the frame. However, the Wildcats responded in a big way, putting up a very crooked number to blow the game open. LCU loaded the bases with back-to-back-to-back base hits with one out, and then KayeLea Dearmon got the scoring started as her grounder to second scored Maci Rozas. Bella Houck cleared off the other two base runners as she doubled to the left-center gap, scoring both Emma Hunt and Lexie Marks. Olivia Coaker capped the scoring right after that with a two-run blast to straightaway center field to put LCU up 6-2 when the second inning ended.

More runs came in the third inning as the Wildcats loaded the bases with one out. A wild pitch moved all three base runners up 60 feet, including Karlie Stine scoring. A ground ball to short allowed Hailey Vitrano to come home just before the third out of the inning was tallied behind her, putting the Wildcats up 8-2.

USW grabbed one of those runs back in the top of the fourth, but the Wildcats ended a potential bigger rally by turning a 1-2-5 double play to end the frame. In the bottom half of the inning, LCU got the run back as Vitrano was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, forcing in Meredith Perry for a 9-3 Wildcat lead when the fourth inning ended.

After keeping the Mustangs off the board in the top of the fifth, the Wildcats took advantage of the opportunity to end the game early in the bottom half of the inning. Emma Hunt started the inning with a hit to left, which was misplayed, allowing her to get to second in the process. She then took advantage of some defensive misalignments on a bunt by Lexie Marks, scoring from second on the bunt. Now with two outs and the bases empty, Bella Houck dropped a base hit into center field and Olivia Coaker found the right-center gap for the walk-off double as Houck came all the way around from first for the game-ending run.

Emma Hunt led the offense in game one, going three-for-three with a walk, a stolen base, and three runs scored. Olivia Coaker went two-for-three, which included her team-leading seventh home run of the season, a double, a walk, three RBI, and a run scored. Bella Houck went two-for-three with a double, a walk, two RBI, and two runs scored. KayeLea Dearmon went two-for-four with a double and a RBI. Lexie Marks went two-for-two and scored a run.

Bailey McMillian (7-5) threw the first three innings and allowed three hits and three runs, just one earned, with two walks and no strikeouts. Miah Broussard threw the final two innings and gave up one hit and no runs with one walk and no strikeouts.

Game 2 – Southwest 3, Louisiana Christian 11 (5 innings)

LCU blew game two open straight away, putting up five runs in the bottom of the first to build a big advantage. Emma Hunt hit a base hit to left to open the inning, stole second, moved to third on a base hit to left by Lexie Marks, and scored as the Wildcats successfully pulled off a double steal. Marks came home on a base hit by KayeLea Dearmon for a 2-0 lead. Olivia Coaker made it three for LCU as her double over the left fielder scored Bella Houck from second. Hailey Vitrano laid down a sacrifice bunt, which was thrown away, allowed Coaker to score from second. BreAnna Corkern picked up Vitrano with a two-out base hit up the middle for the inning’s final run and a 5-0 Wildcat lead.

The Wildcats again took advantage of a lapse of focus to score two in the second inning. Lexie Marks drew a walk to open the frame, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, then stole home while the pitcher’s back was turned out of the circle. KayeLea Dearmon, who had walked, moved to second on a passed ball, moved to third on a wild pitch, scored on another wild pitch to give LCU a 7-0 lead after two complete innings.

LCU put up three more in the third, thanks to a bit more haphazard defense with Wildcat runners on the corners. As the Mustangs tried to keep BreAnna Corkern close to third following a sacrifice bunt by Lexie Marks, the throw behind Emma Hunt, who had moved to second on the bunt, went all the way to the right-center wall, allowing both Corkern and Hunt to score. KayeLea Dearmon added one more right after as she sent a pitch down the right field line and over the wall just inside the right field foul pole for a solo shot and a 10-0 lead after three complete innings.

USW got one in the fourth and two more in the top of the fifth to force LCU to bat in the bottom of the frame, but that was just delaying the inevitable as Miah Broussard led off with a double past the third baseman down the line. Two batters later, Meredith Perry ended the game with a base hit into the right-center gap, scoring pinch runner Maci Rozas from second base to end the game.

KayeLea Dearmon went two-for-two in game two, including her first home run of the season. She also drew a walk, knocked in two runs, and scored twice. Olivia Coaker went one-for-two with a double, a walk, a RBI, and a run scored. BreAnna Corkern went one-for-two with a walk, a RBI, and a run scored. Lexie Marks and Emma Hunt combined for five of LCU’s eight stolen bases in the contest as they both scored twice apiece.

Olivia Coaker (2-1) threw the first four innings and gave up four hits and three runs, one earned, walked two and struck out two. Miah Broussard completed the final inning and allowed one hit and no runs with no walks or strikeouts.

The Wildcats (20-13, 9-5 RRAC) start a busy week of action on Tuesday on the road, looking to finish off the season sweep against Texas College. LCU run-ruled the Steers by identical 8-0 scores at Wildcat Park back on February 26th. First pitch of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Steers (1-19, 0-16 RRAC) is set for 12:00 P.M. at Fun Forest Park in Tyler, Texas.

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