MOBILE, Ala. — One day after owning the spotlight, and rightfully so, Northwestern State junior Jensen Howell returned in similar form Saturday during the second day of the South Alabama Invitational. She registered another home run against Middle Tennessee and that proved to be the difference.
The Lady Demons downed the Blue Raiders 2-0 in their first game of the day. NSU dropped an 8-0 decision to Missouri in its second and final contest of the day.
“I thought E.C. (Delafield) settled in, and did really nice job and got us deep into the game and held (Middle Tennessee) down,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “We had a lot of opportunities, I felt like, and then we got on the board with a big swing from Jensen.”
The results pushed the Lady Demons’ record to 4-1 on the season. Northwestern State wraps up play at the South Alabama Invitational on Sunday. The Lady Demons battle SIU-Edwardsville again at 11:15 a.m. and play host South Alabama at 1:30 p.m.
NSU 2, Middle Tennessee 0
Howell’s home run — her second of the season and second in as many days — occurred in the third inning. She plated freshman Kat Marshall who reached base on a single.
That was all Delafield, who was making her first start of the season, needed. She went five innings, allowing four hits with three strikeouts. Sophomore Bronte Rhoden came on in relief, tossing the final two innings, only surrendering one hit and logging one strikeout.
One constant theme through four of the first five contests this season has been NSU’s pitching. Two shutouts and one game allowing just one run has Pickett pleased with what his staff has done thus far.
“I think they’re doing a really good job of attacking hitters,” Pickett said. “For the most part, we’ve not put a lot of people on. We’ve made other teams earn it. (Our pitchers) do a really good job changing speeds and working ahead of hitters.”
NSU managed to record nine hits against Middle Tennessee. Senior outfielder Elise Vincent led the way with a season-high three hits from her leadoff spot, while Marshall and senior infielder Emma Hawthorne enjoyed two-hit games.
Missouri 8, NSU 0 (5 Innings)
Northwestern State managed six hits against Missouri, and threatened throughout the early stages of the game Saturday. The Lady Demons put a pair of runners on in each of the first four innings, but couldn’t muster up the big RBI hit.
Pickett believes those scoring opportunities will continually arise, and he’s confident his team will register many big hits going forward.
“We just got to get some games under our belt,” Pickett said. “It’s definitely going to come with as talented of hitters as we have. With it being early in the year, we are still getting back into the groove, and not having that consistent approach up and down the lineup. I just think it’s going to take a little time get everybody gelling again.”
Conversely, Missouri did log a few big hits and put up a couple crooked numbers. The Tigers loaded the bases in the first en route to a four-run inning. Howell received the not to start, and she made it through 2/3 of an inning before freshman Kenzi Seeley came on in relief.
Missouri enjoyed a two-run third, and that sandwiched around a pair of one-run innings ended the contest in five innings. NSU senior Samantha Guile made her first appearance of the season, and pitched the final two innings.
Photo Cutline: Jensen Howell homered in NSU’s 2-0 win over Middle Tennessee
Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services