A win to remember
by: Jim Gazzolo
It took nearly four hours Wednesday night to possibly change the course of history.
For years now the McNeese State softball team has been very good and willing to play just about anybody around.
Yet for all their wins and all their close calls, the Cowgirls have struggled against the best on their schedule. Then came Wednesday night.
With rival Louisiana-Lafayette in town the Cowgirls were looking for that win which could, as head coach James Landreneau said, “change the season”.
Yet the first Cajun hitter of the night homered, giving McNeese another punch to the gut.
But this time the Cowgirls responded with a run of their own in the home half of the first inning. Still, ULL had them on the ropes with a two-run lead in the sixth only to have the Cowgirls tie things up.
The same in the 11th before McNeese won it in the 13th with some help from the Cajun defense. That gave the Cowgirls a thrilling if not perfect 6-5 victory.
“To come back three different times shows great maturity,” said Landreneau.
It was the 10th straight win for the Cowgirls, who lead the Southland Conference at 6-0 and are 22-14 overall.
“This can really change the course or our season,” said Landreneau. “We are a young team but we fought hard.”
Landreneau has a belief that playing good teams makes his Cowgirls better at crunch time. It has worked in the past but he has also talked about taking the next big step forward for his program.
In order to do that the Cowgirls need to win games like this one, against good teams. They need to not only be good at scheduling but good at winning close encounters.
That’s why Wednesday night mattered. Add that it was a game against a team from down the road that they battle for recruits and you can see why there was so much joy in the dugout when the winning run scored.
It was the first victory over the Cajuns in Lake Charles since 2007 and was the first time a game from Joe Miller Field at Cowgirl Diamond was broadcast live on ESPN+.
All that made for a big game, but the outcome is what really matters. The Cowgirls won and now next week get a chance to do even better when they host LSU.
Landreneau is right. It’s great that the Cowgirls can play against the best, but it won’t be until they start winning more games like Wednesday night that the program will take a real step forward.
Jim Gazzolo is a freelance writer who covers McNeese State athletics. He is also the co-host of Poke Nation on CBS Lake Charles.