SHSU 2, SFA 1
SFA 2, SHSU 1
HUNTSVILLE - Sophomore Brooke Malia provided the offense, and freshman Regan Dunn and senior Lindsey McLeod combined to toss a gem in the circle to lead the Sam Houston State softball squad to a share of the Southland Conference regular-season crown with a 2-1 victory over Stephen F. Austin in game two of a doubleheader Saturday at Bearkat Softball Complex.
The Bearkats (30-21 overall, 21-5 in SLC) also locked up the No. 1 seed in next week’s Southland tournament, which will be held Tuesday through Friday at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The championship is the fourth SLC title in the Sam Houston State softball program’s history. The Bearkats also won it in 1988, 1990 and 1993.
After dropping game one of the doubleheader 2-1, Malia got Sam Houston State on the board quickly in the nightcap. Junior Megan McDonald, who went 3 for 3, walked to open the bottom of the first, then with one out, Malia crushed her ninth home run of the season off SFA starter Kassidy Wilbur (19-12) high off the scoreboard in left-center field to make it 2-0.
Dunn was cruising in the circle until the fifth when the Ladyjacks (34-18, 18-8) loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk with two outs. That brought SFA senior Rita Corona, who leads the SLC in home runs (12) and is second in batting average (.387), to the plate.
Head coach Garrett Valis brought McLeod in to pitch, and she was able to get Corona to fly out to center field to end the inning.
The Ladyjacks added a lead-off solo home run in the seventh, but McLeod set SFA down in order after that to pick up her third save of the season. Dunn got the win and improved to 9-5.
McLeod (18-8), who took the loss in game 1, a 2-1 SFA victory, had 15 strikeouts in the opener and two more in game two to break her own school record for punchouts in a single season with 230.
Junior Taylar Fuselier hit her first home run of the season in the first game Saturday, which accounted for the Bearkats’ only run.
Sam Houston State holds a one-game lead on second-place Nicholls in the SLC standings. The Bearkats can win the league championship outright Sunday with a win over SFA in the series finale at noon.
Sam Houston holds the tiebreaker over the Colonels for tournament seeding since the Bearkats took two of three in a three-game series from Nicholls in Thibodaux, Louisiana in March.