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Lady Bears send Lady Demons to brink of hibernation - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Lady Bears send Lady Demons to brink of hibernation

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WACO, Texas - From NSU Athletics: Northwestern State didn't get the start it needed Friday night against No. 17 Baylor. Just the opposite, and by the time the Lady Demons created problems for All-America pitcher Whitney Canion, it was late in a 6-1 first-round NCAA Tournament win for the Bears.

Leadoff hitter Tara McKenney had a lengthy at bat but went down swinging in a 20-pitch first frame for Canion, whose two-out walk in the first gave NSU its only baserunner until the sixth. After Baylor's first two hitters singled and walked, Holly Holl bombed  a three-run homer that proved to be more than enough in front of 1,117 fans at Getterman Stadium.

"Give Baylor credit, they came out aggressive and jumped on us early," said Northwestern coach Donald Pickett. "To beat a team that good, you have to execute well hitting, pitching and playing defense, and we only did one of those tonight."

The Lady Demons (30-21) will meet Houston (32-22), a 2-1 walk-off loser to Tulsa (51-7), at 2:30 Saturday in an elimination game. The winner plays again at 5 p.m. against the loser of the Baylor-Tulsa contest starting Saturday's action at noon.

Baylor (43-13) got a solo home run leading off the third by Kaitlyn Thumann and made it 5-0 in the fifth on back-to-back doubles from Jordan Strickland and Liz Paul.

After Canion retired 14 consecutive hitters, striking out nine, the Lady Demons sent six hitters to the plate in the sixth inning and got their only two hits, an infield single by Shenequia Abby followed by a triple to the centerfield wall by McKenney with one out.  Cali Burke fanned on a 2-2 count and Brittany Virgoe drew a four-pitch walk, but cleanup hitter Cassandra Barefield also struck out on a 2-2 count to strand two runners.

"It's like one thing led to another there," said Canion (27-9). "But that's why we had five runs because one wasn't going to hurt us. That team, when they scored, they scored fast and we knew we had to shut it off before they got momentum. Once we stopped it there, we were good."

NSU senior pitcher Kaylee Guidry (12-4), the Southland Conference Tournament MVP, was touched up for the first four runs while walking two and giving up home runs on two of the three hits she allowed.

"I left some balls up, made some pitches I'd like to get back, and they took advantage like good hitters do," she said.

NSU didn't flash any of its four NCAA top 40 offensive team statistics but the Lady Demons' 80th-ranked defense (.964 fielding percentage) had its moments, going error-free while only one Baylor hitter struck out.

"Our defense was our saving grace. It kept us in the game," said Pickett. "We didn't have breakdowns and we made some nice plays, but we didn't have a good approach at the plate against a very, very good pitcher."

Canion flirted with her sixth career no-hitter, second in three weeks, but settled for a complete game while striking out  15 of the 25 hitters she saw.

"She didn't overpower us," said McKenney, an All-South Region pick whose triple extended her hitting streak to 14 games. "She threw hard in the first inning but we were out in front of her most of the night, overanxious to make something happen. This isn't the team we are, and now we have to put this behind us and fight through and win two tomorrow."

NSU will play Houston, coached by Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member Kyla Hall Holas, for the second time in three seasons. UH won 6-1 in 2012 and holds a 3-2 series edge.
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