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Top seeded McNeese softball wins Southland Championship with extra inning walk off homer versus Southeastern
LAKE CHARLES, La. – After a pitcher’s duel through regulation, the top seeded McNeese Cowgirls earned their ninth Southland Conference Softball Championship in program history with a 1-0 win over second seed Southeastern thanks to a walkoff homer by Reese Reyna.
The Cowgirls earn the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament with the win, giving the program nine SLC tournament titles, including the last three consecutively. The Cowgirls have won SLC tournament championships in 1983, 2005, 2010, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021, 2022, and 2023.
McNeese will take a 44-14 overall record to the NCAA Tournament, while Southeastern has a record of 47-14 awaiting news of potential postseason opportunities.
With 30 conference championship games played across the country Saturday, this game was one of only four with a pair of 40-win teams facing off, and the action met the elevated billing.
While both offenses scrambled to create scoring chances, the pitchers shut them down each time. The Lady Lions had a runner in scoring position in six of the eight innings, but were denied each time. Two SLU runners were thrown out at second after reaching safely on good defensive plays, as McNeese did not allow a runner to reach third. Starter Whitney Tate allowed six hits in 6.1 innings, striking out two and allowing six hits in a no decision. Ashley Vallejo earned the win in relief to move to 18-8, allowing one hit, one walk, and one strikeout.
McNeese was limited in its scoring chances, not earning a hit until the fifth, but stranded a runner at third in the fifth and a runner at second in the sixth. Unfortunately, for Southeastern pitcher KK Ladner, one swing of the bat can change your fortunes in extra innings.
With two out in the bottom of the eighth, Ladner left a slightly elevated pitch on the outer half of the plate and Reyna pulled it to left field, just past the outstretched reach of left fielder Ka’Lyn Watson, and inches over the wall for the walkoff homer. Ladner allowed only two hits and the one run with five strikeouts and three walks in 7.2 innings of work to move to 15-2 on the season.
Reyna hit .500 for the tournament with five hits in 10 at bats, with two homers including the crucial walkoff in the championship game to earn Tournament MVP honors.
Reese Reyna, McNeese - MVP
Mariana Torres, McNeese
Alayis Seneca, McNeese
Whitney Tate, McNeese
Ashley Vallejo, McNeese
Madison Rayner, Southeastern
Lexi Johnson, Southeastern
Audrey Greely, Southeastern
Ka’Lyn Watson, Southeastern
KK Ladner, Southeastern
Cameron Niedenthal, Lamar
Alexa Poche’, Nicholls
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