LAKE CHARLES, LA (Press Release)- Stephen F. Austin’s impressive run in the 2016 Southland Conference tournament came to an end Friday morning as the fifth-seeded Ladyjacks fell to third-seeded Lamar 5-3 in the semifinals.
SFA closes out the 2016 season at 28-29, its highest win total since winning 29 games in 2010, reaching the tournament semifinals for the second time in the past three years. The three wins in the Southland Conference tournament also matched the program-best from 2008 when the Ladyjacks captured the tournament championship.
Lamar raced out of the gate early, scoring a pair of runs in both the first and second innings, although the Ladyjacks limited the Cardinals to just two runs in the first after LU loaded the bases with one out.
After starter Makayla Sikes’s outing ended after 1.1 innings pitched, Callee Guffey came on strong in relief, retiring the next 11 batters she faced to keep the Ladyjacks in the game.
SFA tried to mount a rally in the sixth as back-to-back singles from Heather Hollingsworth andAutumn Holloway, followed by a double steal, put the duo in scoring position with one out.Taylor LeFlore ripped a shot to the gap which was run down by the Cardinal left fielder, but it was enough to allow Hollingsworth to tag from third for SFA’s lone run.
But the rally was short lived as Lamar responded with an insurance run in the sixth, extending its lead to 5-1. SFA tried one last rally in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with one out before Holloway sent a shot up the middle to score two and cutting the deficit to two. But Brittany Lewis’ shot to short hit Courtney Chambers on the foot, ending the game in devastating fashion for SFA.
Holloway paced the Ladyjacks offensively, going 3-for-4 with the two RBI in the seventh inning. Lindsay Campbell and Hollingsworth each added a hit for SFA, who finished with five on the day, while limiting Lamar to six hits. The Cardinals also were tagged with four errors on the day, allowing SFA to remain alive late.
Sikes allowed four runs on four hits in 1.1 innings pitched while Guffey allowed a run on two hits in 4.2 innings pitched for the Ladyjacks as both pitchers recorded a strikeout.
Despite the semifinal loss, SFA’s future remains bright as the Ladyjacks lose just two seniors from its starting lineup along with returning its top two pitchers.