BY CASEY GISCLAIR
Senior Night Weekend is always memorable.
But the Nicholls softball team went the extra mile this year to make sure that it was a weekend no one around the program will soon forget.
The Colonels took two out of three games from rival Southeastern Louisiana, securing the No. 2 seed in this week’s Southland Conference Tournament.
The Colonels won their two games both by one run — a 3-2 win to open the series, then a nine-inning, 4-3 victory to cap the series on Saturday night after a day of rain.
Freshman Melise Gossen got the walk-off hit to secure the series. On Senior Night Weekend, it was fitting. Senior Kali Clement touched home plate to secure the win.
But the Lions battled Nicholls tooth and nail all weekend — a stiff test for the Colonels of what’s to come next week in Natchitoches.
In the opener, the Colonels fell behind 2-0 right out of the gate, as the Lions plated single runs in the first and second innings off senior ace Megan Landry.
But the Colonels responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the third inning to tie it, then a single run in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the lead.
None of the runs came on a base hit, but instead came on Emma Holland being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, an RBI ground ball out from Kasey Frederick and a RBI fielder’s choice ground ball from Corynn Major to go out in front for good.
The offensive surge was all Landry needed.
After the early struggles, she settled into the game nicely, dominating in the final innings to close the door on Southeastern.
From the fourth inning-on, the Lions had just two hits and very little solid contact off the senior, who recorded just 1 strikeout in the win, weaving through Southeastern in just 84 pitches over 7 innings.
But the Lions weren’t done making things interesting.
Southeastern crushed Nicholls in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader, run-ruling the Colonels 11-1 in six innings.
The Lions applied pressure throughout the win, scoring two runs in the first, third and fifth innings to go up 6-1, then exploding for five in the sixth to put the game to bed.
Nicholls started Emily Danehower in the loss, also utilizing Alexis LaBure in relief.
Neither were overly effective, combining to allow 11 hits, 11 runs (9 earned), with 3 walks and just three strikeouts.
That set the stage for Saturday’s decisive game, which was a Herculean battle.
The Colonels got two runs in the bottom of the first inning on a two-RBI triple from Dares to go up 2-0, but the Lions battled back with three-straight runs to go up 3-2 in the third — a lead that held until the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Colonels battled when senior Kali Clement stroked an RBI base hit to center field to score fellow senior Amanda Gianelloni to tie the game and send it to extras.
In extras, Landry continued to mow down the Lions, pitching 9 innings, allowing three runs (two earned), while striking out six with no walks in 126 pitches.
The Lions finally broke in the bottom of the ninth. After a leadoff out, Clement powered a double down the line. Dares then walked, which set up Gossen’s heroics — a single down the right side to secure the win. It was just her 13th RBI of the year.
With the win, the Colonels will head to the Southland Conference Tournament as the No. 2 seed, trailing just Sam Houston State. The Colonels will begin their quest today at 1:30 p.m.
Their opponent will not be known until Tuesday after press-time.
Landry said earlier this season that the challenge for Nicholls will be to peak at the right time after two-straight seasons finishing as the tournament runners-up.
“We know we have what it takes,” she said. “We just have to play our best when the time is right.” •