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Kayt Houston
Kayt Houston had her eight home run of the season.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App State Softball Drops Series Finale to 23rd Ranked Louisiana

In the series finale at Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium, the No. 23 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns struck first and ran away with an 8-0 win over the App State Mountaineers on Saturday. The Mountaineers battled all game, but offense was hard to come by as they tallied just three hits in the contest.

Kayt Houston kept her hot streak going, tallying another hit to lead off the ball game to give her four knocks for the series. She batted .500 across the three games to up her season batting average to .456. She currently sits second in the Sun Belt Conference in batting average.

Making her second start of the weekend and 16th of the season, Sejal Neas kept the staunch Ragin’ Cajun (24-13, 9-0 SBC) offense quiet through the first two innings, allowing just two hits while making two slick plays in the circle to record outs. Neas pitched four innings for the Mountaineers (15-16, 3-6 SBC) in the game before Delani Buckner relieved her in the fifth.

Pinch-hitting in the seventh inning, Macy Hamby provided some momentum as she came off the bench and smacked the first pitch she saw into right field, marking her second career hit. Peyton Darnell wrapped up her weekend nicely with a screaming double over the right fielder in the first inning. App State tallied two first-inning hits in the game, doing well to spark some early stress on the Louisiana defense.

The Mountaineer defense took the field to start the game and held the Ragin’ Cajuns scoreless in the top half of the first as Neas worked around a walk and a stolen base to strand a runner. Using the momentum from the scoreless frame, App State tallied two hits in the bottom of the first to generate a scoring chance.

Houston led off the opening at-bat by shooting a single that hugged the left-field line and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Despite the early chance, the Ragin’ Cajun defense snagged a liner and turned a double play to clear the bases for Darnell. Darnell promptly replaced Houston at second with a double that sailed over the right fielder’s head to put another runner on base. But Louisiana forced a pop-out to end the inning.

Trekking back to the circle for her second inning of work, Neas forced two straight groundouts and worked around a two-out single to post another scoreless inning. Her fielding skills were put to the test to end the frame as she calmly fielded a comebacker and tossed it to Taylor Thorp for the third out.

A dueling scoreless inning from the Cajuns brought their offense back to the plate and they capitalized with three runs on four hits. Now trailing, the Mountaineer bats produced more traffic on the base paths as Brooke Kennerly worked a walk to force a pitching change.

With a runner on first, the Mountaineers reached base again courtesy of a perfect bunt by Abby Cunningham and a misplay by the third baseman to put two on for Houston. The pitching change by Louisiana worked, however, as they retired the last three hitters in order to end the threat.

Neas bounced back nicely in the top of the fourth with the third shutout inning of her outing. The Mountaineers generated another baserunner in their half of the fourth courtesy of an error, but she was stranded as play progressed to the fifth.

The Cajuns tallied three more in the sixth on four hits to chase Neas. Buckner made her way to the circle and limited the damage to end the frame, using a trio of spectacular plays in the outfield by Addie Wray and Cunningham. On Buckner’s first pitch, Alexa Langeliers drove one to center that pushed Wray to the wall where she made an incredible leaping grab on the warning track to retire the batter.

Dueling zeros in the sixth inning sent things to the seventh which saw Louisiana tack on two more insurance runs to get to their final tally of eight. Hamby provided a spark off the bench in the bottom of the seventh with a first-pitch hit, but the Cajuns forced a groundout to end the inning and the game.

App State will hit the field at home again next weekend, this time hosting the South Alabama Jaguars at Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium for a three-game set next Friday-Sunday. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 5 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+. Admission is free.