LSU Eunice splits a pair Friday at softball nationals

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OXFORD, Ala. – LSU Eunice split a pair of hard fought games in the second day of action at the NJCAA Division II Softball National Tournament at Choccolocco Park. The Bengals ended a 45-game win streak before taking the defending National Champions down to the wire.

Chloe Bennett would turn in a pair of terrific performances, helping LSUE shutout Louisburg 2-0 before earning a tough luck loss in a 4-3 decision to Phoenix. Maci Baldwin and Ashlyn Roach were the standouts on the offensive end, collecting hits in both contests.

The Bengals now await the winner of Saturday morning’s consolation game between five-seed Northwest Mississippi and nine-seed Kansas City Kansas for a 2:00PM game. With a victory, LSUE would meet the winner of the other side of the consolation bracket at 8:00PM on Saturday.

The remainder of the tournament will be played on the Signature Field at Choccolocco Park and can be seen on the NJCAA Network.

Game 1 vs. 3. Louisburg – W, 2-0

LSU Eunice manufactured a pair of runs in the fifth innings as the Bengals won a pitching duel with Louisburg, 2-0. The victory for the Bengals snapped the Hurricanes’ nation’s best 45-game win streak.

Chloe Bennett turned in one of her best performances of the season, holding a high-powered Louisburg offense to just one hit over the contest. Bennett and the Bengals worked out of a one out bases loaded jam in the first inning.

The Hurricanes would get just one base runner to second base the remainder of the game.

Bennett would issue four walks with three strikeouts to improve to 23-8 on the season.

After managing just one hit in the first four frames, the Bengals would finally get to Louisburg starter Carrigan Ewers. After Madison Prejean led the inning with a walk and advanced to second base on a passed ball, Cendall Barton would bring home the go ahead run with a ground ball single to left field.

Janey Cheramie would pinch run for Barton, coming home on a sacrifice fly by Brooke Taylor later in the frame. The Bengals would have a chance for more in the inning, leaving the bases loaded.

Bennett would retire the final six Hurricane batters in order to help LSUE secure the win.

Game 2 vs. 2. Phoenix – L, 3-4

LSU Eunice and Phoenix played another classic between the two perennial powers as the Bengals fell short 4-3 to drop to consolation play.

The game pitted the last two NJCAA Division II National Champions as the two teams have combined for 15 National Championships.

The tops of each lineup would do the majority of the offensive damage in the game, as both teams would strike on the scoreboard in the third. Ali Ashner would get the Bears on the board first, doubling home a run to give Phoenix the 1-0 lead.

That would awaken the LSUE bats as the Bengals put up a three spot in the bottom half of the inning. Jessi Cary began the frame with a towering double off the wall in center, scoring two batters later on a Maci Baldwin RBI single. Baldwin would advance to third on a Bear error and score as Maddie Leal executed a suicide squeeze to give LSUE the lead.

Ashlyn Roach ended the frame with an RBI double to give LSUE the 3-1 advantage.

Phoenix would tie the game the next time the top of its lineup was up, plating two runs in the fifth to tie the game 3-3. LSUE would have a golden opportunity to get back in front, leaving two runners as stranded as a hard-hit ball by Madison Prejean was right to the left fielder to end the threat.

The Bears would regain the lead off a solo home run to left center field in the top of the 7th, but the Bengals would not go down without a fight. After Jessi Cary drew a lead off walk, pinch runner Janey Cheramie would steal second to put the tying run in scoring position.

After a strikeout and pop up, Maddie Leal sent a charge to left center field that hung up just enough for Phoenix to secure the final out.

Maci Baldwin led the LSUE offense with two of the team’s five hits, producing both an RBI and run scored.

Chloe Bennett was tagged with a hard luck loss, tossing her second complete game of the game. Bennett scattered four earned runs off nine hits and two walks. The freshman struck out five batters on the night.

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