Softball 1-3 in Mississippi

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On base: Sophomore catcher Hailey Weavers rounds the bases against Jackson State. The Billikens caught an early lead and held off a surge by the Tigers for a 9-8 win. Saint Louis Athletics

The weather may have caused cancellations at Western Kentucky’s Holiday Inn Hilltopper Spring Fling this past Thursday, Feb. 19, and Friday, Feb. 20, for the Billiken softball team, but it didn’t stop them from competing.

The women found an alternative tournament further south with the Jackson State Tournament in Jackson, Mississippi, and earned a win and two losses.  SLU played Northwestern State, Jackson State and Belmont over the course of two days.

SLU fell early in a 4-0 loss to Northwestern State, with only four hits and dropping runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings.  Mackenzie Peter, Elizabeth Everingham and Emma Buckles recorded a double and two singles, respectively, but the women could not execute in the end.

However, things turned around later that afternoon as the Billikens squeaked out a 9-8 victory over host Jackson State.  SLU left the Tigers in the dust with a 9-2 lead in  the fourth inning.

Lindsey Friedman and Everingham had doubles in the first to propel the Bills to a 2-0 lead.  Allie Macfarlane kept the ball rolling with her first-career homerun to make it 3-0.  As a freshman, this was a big moment for Macfarlane.

“We had just lost to Northwestern State and we wanted to start the next game [Jacksonville] strong,” she said.  “We were winning 1-0 and I wanted to get on base to help the team.  The ball just ended up over the fence and it was such a great feeling.”

By the end of the third, SLU had the lead, 6-2.

The fourth inning sealed the deal with three unearned runs for the Billikens, but Jackson State fought back in the end to give SLU a run for their money.  The Tigers earned three runs in the fifth inning and another three in the seventh inning, making it 9-8, but Laney Kneib cut them short on the mound, despite loaded bases for the Tigers in the final inning.

The final matchup on Friday against Belmont placed the Billikens in a role-reversal..  By the fifth inning, Belmont took the lead, 6-0.   The Bills attempted a rally with a home run by Everingham in the sixth (her first of the season) and another run in the seventh, but the deficit was too large.

Macfarlane commented on the weekend in retrospect and for the team moving forward.

“The team’s overall goal going into the weekend was to be aggressive and to come out strong to get three wins,” she said.  “Overall it was unsuccessful, but it reminds us that we have a lot of improving to do and we need to work hard to be a winning team.”

Northwestern State, Jacksonville and Belmont all had their work cut out for them this season with strong schedules and talented team members, therefore all three teams were ready for the Billikens this past weekend.

“Northwestern is a solid team who has played a thorough schedule so far,” Macfarlane said.  “Overall, all the teams were good competition with strong pitchers.”

However, the Billiken offense looked strong, as they out-hit Belmont 11-6.  Peter had three hits; Alex Nickel and Brianna Lore each had two; Friedman, Macfarlane, Peter, Nickel, and Lore all doubled; and Alyssa Tarquinio had a single.

“We have a few more non-conference tournaments coming up, but then we have our conference series in March,” Macfarlane said.  “We’re continuing to play and progress to being in the A-10 Championship.”

The women were scheduled to play closer to home this weekend at the All-Missouri Classic in Springfield; however, due to inclement weather this tournament has been cancelled. This is the second time this season that SLU has been forced to reschedule. The team will instead travel to Louisiana for the Southeastern Louisiana’s Lion Classic Scramble in Hammond, La.

Their first opponent will be Arkansas and will take place Friday, Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. SLU will go to face intrastate rival Southeast Missouri State immediately after at 5 p.m.

Play will continue on Saturday with two more games, one against host Southeastern Louisian at 10 a.m. and the second against Arkansas at noon.

The tournament will wrap up on Sunday with a game against UT Martin at noon.