Sam Houston returns to the site of one of the most amazing playoff performances in Southland Conference softball history when the Bearkats travel to face Northwestern State in a three-game series Saturday and Sunday in Natchitoches.
Last May, the Kats were one out away from winning the Southland tournament championship. But the Demons scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 5-4 victory in the final game.
In the 21-year history of the tournament, Sam Houston stands as only the fifth team to roll through the elimination bracket and force an “if necessary” game in the championship final.
During the 11-game, three-day event in Natchitoches, seven of the contests involved the Bearkats. The Kats played 11 innings on Thursday, 17 on Friday and 21 on Saturday. All together, the squad played 13 hours and 58 minutes of softball.
Sam Houston’s five wins in those seven contests represent the most by any team in one tournament since post-season play for Southland softball started in 1988.
Now Sam Houston is back in Natchitoches, La., for another series of important games.
After a three-game sweep of first place Lamar last week in Huntsville, the Bearkats are tied for fourth place in the 2014 league race with a 7-5 Southland mark. Northwestern State is tied for sixth place with a 6-5 league record.
Sam Houston is 18-17 for the year while Northwestern State enters the series 17-15 after a mid-week doubleheader sweep of Southern University of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Shortstop Tayler Gray and outfielder Cecilia Castillo led the Bearkats at the plate with batting averages of .356 and .337, respectively. Gray, designated player Hillary Adams and first baseman Sarah Allison all give SHSU a long ball threat, each with six home runs this year.
Shelby Lancaster (5-5) and Haley Baros (8-8) own Sam Houston’s top season marks in the pitching circle.
Demon Cassandra Barefield and third baseman Brittany Virgoe are the Demons’ top threats at the plate. Senior Kaylee Guidry (7-3) steers the NSU pitching staff.
Saturday’s doubleheader begins at 2 p.m. Sunday’s single game sees a 1 p.m. first pitch.