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Cardinal softball beats NSU, keeps tournament run alive

Image creditL Lamar athletics.LAKE CHARLES, La. - Lamar University had to wait nearly two days to resume their Southland Conference tournament due to inclement weather. When they finally did, the Cardinals raced out to a 5-0 lead against Northwestern State University in the loser's bracket matchup of the Southland Conference Tournament. But when the Demons rallied back to within one, it was a miraculous double play started by Nicki Ramirez that ended NSU's comeback hopes at 5-4. This win marks LU's first postseason win since 2017.

Aaliyah Ruiz started the game and would earn the win going 5.1 innings allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out two. Fadwa Ben Karim would earn a five-out save despite giving up a run on two hits. On offense, Cameron Niedenthal was a perfect three-of-three with an RBI in each at-bat. Estela Garza and Felixa Hinojosa (RBI) would collect two hits in the contest.

Determined to break out any rust from the wait, the Cardinals struck in the first inning as Estela Garza led off with a single and would later score on a Niedenthal RBI single. In the bottom of the first inning, the Demons put their leadoff runner on base via error, but Brooke Davis made two defensive plays to keep NSU from scoring. The Cardinals threatened early in the third inning putting two runners on with no outs. Niedenthal then drove in LU's second run with a double to right center. After loading the bases with nobody out, Hinojosa singled to right to score Niedenthal with one stretching the lead to 3-0. A sac fly by Davis would score Kenney and the lead was 4-0.

By the start of the bottom of the fourth inning, a familiar opponent came down from the skies as lightning and rain halted the game for nearly an hour. Once play resumed, Ruiz didn't miss a beat recording a 1-2-3 inning.  While the Demons threatened in the fifth inning putting two on, they wouldn't even move further as Ruiz allowed a groundout to second for the final out. Niedenthal would pick up her third hit and RBI in the sixth inning with another single to drive in Garza for a 5-0 lead.

NSU would finally come to life as they got on the board with a two-run blast and then followed with an RBI single to make the score 5-3 with one out in the sixth. Ben Karim came in to the game in relief and would keep Big Red up heading to the seventh. The momentum would still belong to the Demons as they rallied back to get within a run and put runners at first and second with one out.

With the count at 0-1, a line drive off the bat appeared to head to right center for a base hit. All of a sudden, Ramirez dove to her right, snagged the ball, then flipped it to Davis at second to complete the double play and kept LU's season going for another day.

The Cardinals will be playing tomorrow at 11:00 am against the winner of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi or Nicholls. If LU wins, they will then be taking on the loser of McNeese and Southeastern in the game after.
Category: Sports