POPLARVILLE, Miss - The Louisiana State University at Eunice Lady Bengals split a doubleheader with Pearl River over the weekend, grabbing a 16-11 win before falling 8-5 in the finale.
Hannah Latiolais earned the win in the opener as she allowed 11 runs on 18 hits in 6 1/3 innings of work. Fagan Willoughby recorded the final five outs to seal the win for the Lady Bengals.
“Basically it was a slug fest with both teams able to have solid hitting and score a bunch of runs,” LSUE head coach Brian DeWitt said of the win. “Scoring in every inning and shutting them out in three innings was the difference for us.”
“In the second game, we failed to make some routine defensive plays and were not able to adjust to how their pitcher attacked us.”
LSUE jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but Pearl River responded with two runs in the bottom of the stanza.
Emmalea Dugas singled and scored on RBI from Kimberly St. Amant. Kami Hebert walked and scored when Leigh Ann Jukes reached on a fielder’s choice. Kaiser then scored Jukes on a Lady Wildcat error to push LSUE ahead 3-0.
Pearl River scored when Viki Ferenack reached on a error and scored on a double by Whitney Sumpter. Sumpter scored to close the gap to 3-2 on a RBI by Jessica Dubuisson.
The Lady Bengals increased its lead to 6-2 over the next two innings before the Lady Wildcats scored three runs in the bottom of the third to close the gap to 6-5.
Dugas singled, Lindsey Babin walked and both scored on a single by Hebert to push ahead 5-2.
Elizabeth Kaiser hit a solo home run in the top of the third before the Lady Wildcats rallied to close the gap to one run.
A three-run surge in the top of the fourth pushed LSUE ahead 9-5, but the hosts from Mississippi added a run in the bottom of the inning to keep the game close.
Jessica Cooper singled and scored on Hebert’s home run; followed by a single from St. Amant and a RBI double by Kaiser.
The Lady Bengals exploded for a six-run rally over the next two innings, but False River answered with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to close the gap to 15-9.
Savoie hit a solo round tripper in the top of the fifth to help the LSUE surge. Dugas and Cooper hit back-to-back singles then Hebert cleared the bases with another home run.
LSUE added a run in the top of the seventh on a solo shot by St. Amant and then the Lady Bengal defense halted a two-run rally as Pearl River fell five runs short of a comeback.
Hebert kept her hot bat going as she was 3-for-4 with two home runs and recorded seven RBI to lead the Lady Bengals.
Kaiser had a strong performance as she went 3-for-5 with two solo home runs, a double and three RBI.
St. Amant was also spectacular at the plate as she was 4-for-5 with a solo home run and two RBI in the win.
Dugas went 4-for-5 with a RBI, while Cooper went 3-for-4 with three runs scored.
Amanda Savoie was 1-for-5 with a home run, while Candace Fairchild went 1-for-4 with a double.
Whitney Sumpter led Pearl River with a 5-for-5 performance including two RBI doubles.
“We hit very well,” LSUE head coach DeWitt said. “Everyone was on and they had to use three pitchers to try and stop us.
The Lady Wildcats jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second game, aided by a two-run homer by Kaci Mitchell.
St. Amant hit a solo shot in the top of the second inning as LSUE closed the gap to 4-1, but Pearl River added two more runs in the bottom of the frame when Virginia Blanchet homered and Viki Ferenack singled and scored on a single by Sumpter.
The Lady Bengals closed the gap to 5-4 in the top of the fifth inning when Savoie walked and scored on a passed ball; Fairchild singled and Cooper walked and the duo scored on a double from Hebert.
The Lady Wildcats increased its lead to 8-4 in the bottom of the inning when Sarah Farve doubled and scored on an error, while Blanchet singled and scored on a passed ball.
LSUE scored in the top of the seventh when Dugas walked and scored on a single by Hebert, but the Lady Bengals could not get any closer.
Hebert finished 2-for-4 with a double and 3 RBI for the Lady Bengals, while Blanchet went 2-for-3 with a home run to lead Pearl River.
“The team now believes that when they take the field they can win no matter who they are playing and I think that is the top reason why we are playing better now,” DeWitt said of the season. “Our pitchers have better control now and are hitting their spots better which is why we are able to put ourselves in the position to win more often.
“What we still need to work on is putting a team away once we have a late-game lead,” DeWitt said.
“Several times we had a lead and almost let it get away from us before we were able to finish the game.
“If we want to qualify for regionals and then do well there, we must learn to finish the game with the same focus we use to start the game.”
According to DeWitt, with a 13-23 record overall and 6-3 in Division II, the Lady Bengals need one more win in the last four games in divisional play to qualify for post season play.
LSUE travels to Alvin Community College next Tuesday for a 1 p.m. doubleheader and completes the 14-game road trip with a doubleheader at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College next Thursday.
The Lady Bengals face Pearl River in the home finale on April 15 before closing the regular season at Lamar College on April 16.