LSU Eunice beats Jones to earn NJCAA national softball tourney berth

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EUNICE, La – If there is anything that LSU Eunice Softball proved over the course of its stay in Wesson this week, the Bengals have shown they are battle tested.

After navigating through the most difficult schedule in junior college softball this season, LSU Eunice’s journey has taken them back to the National Tournament.

The Bengals secured the program’s 10th trip to Nationals after a 9-6 victory over Jones College on Saturday to advance to the Region 23 Championship and serve as one of two Gulf District representatives in the National Tournament.

LSUE will have a rematch with Northwest Mississippi at noon Sunday for the Region 23 crown with the Bengals needing two wins over the Rangers to win the Championship.

LSUE was fast out the gate, connecting on four straight singles to takes a 2-0 lead. Madison Prejean shot a grounder back up the middle to end the sequence with a two-run single, scoring Maddie Leal and Madison Diaville.

Prejean would add to her and the Bengals’ tally in the third with another RBI single. Jessi Cary would get in on the scoring later in the inning, scoring two runs on a single to left field.

Cary tied a career-high with three hits in the game as Maddie Leal joined her with three hit games. The onslaught continued in the fourth as Madison Diaville would triple home Leal to make it a 6-0 LSUE advantage.

But as most contest between LSUE and Jones go, this would go down to the wire. The Bobcats would claw back in a hurry with a two-out, two strike grand slam in the bottom half of the fourth to cut the Bengals’ lead to 6-4.

However, every time Jones would score, LSUE had an answer. Abby Touchet ripped a home run of her own, blasting a two-run shot to straight away center to push the Bengals’ lead back to 8-4. The Bobcats would add two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to get back within two, 8-6.

Madison Diaville supplied the answer in the sixth, sacrificing home Maci Baldwin to make it 9-6 LSUE. Diaville was one of four Bengals with multi-hit games in LSUE’s 13-hit attack.

The Bengals would withstand one final push by Jones as the Bobcats would score a run in the seventh, leaving the bases loaded as Chloe Bennett set off the LSUE celebration with a strikeout to end the game.

Bennett was dominant early, not allowing a hit until the fourth inning. She would exit the game in the fifth but would return to get the final three outs of the game. The freshman improved to 21-7 after recording eight punchouts. She yielded five runs, just one of them earned, on three hits and four walks.

Cendal Barton and Emma Shepherd also saw time in the circle before Bennett would re-enter to secure the win.

LSUE extended its series advantage over Jones College to 25-13 in the two teams’ storied history. The Bengals also improved to 19-8 all-time over the Bobcats in postseason play.

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