Lady Cards shut out Bearkats in final game of series

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BEAUMONT, Texas – Ciara Luna set a Lamar University record with her sixth career shutout as the Cardinals defeated the visiting Sam Houston State Bearkats in a Southland Conference game on Saturday.

Luna (7-12) allowed just two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out five. Over her last three outings, the senior right-hander has allowed 12 hits in 24 innings, walking one and striking out 19 with a 0.00 ERA. The only run she allowed was in the 10th inning of Friday’s 1-0 loss to Sam Houston State due to the tie-breaker rule, in which a runner is placed on second base to start the inning.

“Ciara was fantastic,” LU coach Holly Bruder said. “She pitched well Friday and deserved to win. She was incredible again today. For her to throw that many innings and still be that strong is just incredible.”

Luna was locked in a pitcher’s duel with Sam Houston State starter Lindsay McLeod throughout the afternoon. McLeod allowed just three hits over the first five innings before the Cardinals (20-20 overall, 10-5 Southland) finally got to her in the bottom of the sixth inning, starting everything with two outs. Brynn Baca started the rally by getting hit by a pitch. Sable Hankins followed with a single to left-center to move Baca to third. Hankins stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Kelly Meeuwsen cashed in on the situation with a sharp single up the middle to plate both runners.

Luna, who had given up just one hit over the first six innings, was greeted by an infield single by Codi Carpenter to start the seventh inning, but the Bearkats (16-20, 7-8) could do no further damage. Luna ended the game by striking out pinch-hitter Hannah Marino, gaining a little bit of revenge, as Marino’s had the game-winning hit on Friday.

“Our pitching was big all week,” Bruder said. “I wish our offense was able to score some more runs, but our pitchers really came through.”

Meeuwsen had two of LU’s five hits. McLeod allowed five hits and two runs, both earned over six innings. She did not walk a batter and fanned three.

With the win, the Cardinals moved to within two games of second-place Nicholls and Abilene Christian in the conference. The Colonels and Wildcats are 12-3 in SLC play. The top two teams earn a bye in the first round of the conference tournament. Abilene Christian, which is in its final year of transitioning from Division II to Division I, is not eligible for the tournament. McNeese is in first place in the SLC with a 14-1 conference mark.

“Our goal is to win every series,” Bruder said. “We had a setback last weekend at Southeastern Louisiana, but we got back on track a bit this week. Every win is important.”

RECORDS WERE MADE TO BE BROKEN: Luna’s sixth career shutout moved her past Laura Hall, who had five shutouts when she pitched for LU in 1985 and 1986.

HONORED: Bruder was recognized before the game for being honored by her alma mater, Alma College. Bruder was part of the 1998 Alma College team that went 33-4 and advanced the finals of the NCAA Regionals. Bruder started every game at third base for that squad, which was inducted into the Alma College Athletic Hall of Fame today.

“It’s not every day you get inducted into a hall of fame,” Bruder said. “It would have been nice to be there, but this is where I should be.”

UP NEXT: The Cardinals host Central Arkansas in a three-game conference series next weekend. The Bears are at LU for a single game at 5 p.m. Friday and a doubleheader at 2 p.m. Saturday. Central Arkansas is 6-9 in the Southland Conference, tied with Northwestern State for the final spot in the conference tourney, which is set to be played at Central Arkansas from May 10-13.

TICKETS: For tickets to all LU home games, call 409-880-1715, or visit Tickets are also available at the LU ticket office, located in the Montagne Center, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Tickets will be available at the ticket window at the LU Softball Complex starting one hour prior to first pitch.

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