The Nicholls softball team staged a strong defensive effort Wednesday night against Southern Mississippi in its home opener at Swanner Field in Thibodaux.
Nicholls State stifled the Golden Eagles at the plate, while taking advantage of three errors in the 4-1 non-conference victory.
Colonels pitcher Megan Landry earned the win with four strikeouts, a walk and by scattering three hits in six innings. Southern Miss pitcher Abby Trahan took the loss despite six strikeouts, two walks and allowing five hits.
"It was a bit of a chess match in the beginning," Colonels coach Angel Santiago said. "Then we started putting the ball in play, putting the bunt down. We started manufacturing some runs, let them make the mistakes."
"I like that we fought until the end. I don’t like that we didn’t play well defensively," Golden Eagles coach Wendy Hogue said." We scored on the one error they had. Every time we gave them a freebie, they scored a run on us."
Nicholls State (4-2 overall) capitalized on three Southern Miss errors in the third inning.
With runners on the corners, Kennedy Hebert stole second base.
The pickoff throw by Eagles catcher Samantha Papp went into the outfield, allowing Maegan Ellis to score from third base.
Then a Kasey Fredrick (1-for-1, 2 RBIs) had an RBI single that scored Emma Holland for a 2-0 lead.
In the fourth, Bailey Hughes scored on a Veronica Villafranco RBI single.
After Holland smacked a triple in the fifth, she plated on Frederick’s sacrifice fly for a 4-0 advantage.
"When you run the bases hard and do all the things you’re supposed to do, you can cause trouble for the opponent," Santiago explained. "I’ve always asked this team to give us all you’ve got at the plate, play some solid defense and get some good pitching in."
"(Abby) is always going to give you great effort. Even if there’s a runner on third and no outs, she’s still confident," Hogue said. "That third inning, we had the leadoff hitter out, but it came back on an illegal pitch. She goes from 0-2 to getting on base. That’s when the errors started."
Landry held Southern Mississippi (5-1 overall) hitless through four innings. The Golden Eagles began the sixth inning with consecutive singles from Heather Hill (2-for-3, RBI) and Kaley Fruge.
However the Colonels defense allowed them to escape the inning unscathed. Fredrick made a diving catch, Amanda Gianelloni snatched a pop in foul territory and Landry struck out Destini Brown to end the threat.
"If a pitcher put them self in trouble, they’re going to pitch themselves out of trouble," Santiago said. "That’s the kind of mentality Megan has. She’s tough, she’s a competitor; she wants to finish the game. The defense held, and she made some great pitches."
Southern Miss got its lone run came in the seventh inning. Hill’s RBI single off Colonels reliever Alexis LaBure scored Lacy Sumerlin.
"The lineup’s been doing well, but we chased pitches (Wednesday)," Hogue said. "If I had to do it again, you would have seen some small ball earlier on. We haven’t had to bunt yet. We have kids that can drop bunts and have decent speed. This is game six of 54. We got to learn from it and get better."
The Colonels don’t have another home game until March 13.
In the meantime, Santiago said he hopes to get all three phases of the game working simultaneously.
"When we get on the road, I want to see us really focus on putting together a good flow of all three departments: hitting, fielding and pitching," Santiago said. "We’re going to talk to some players about how they’re managing their at-bats. The biggest thing with our at-bats right now is technique. We’re trying too hard and not utilizing our bodies the way we should."