March 23, 2014
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BEAUMONT, Texas - Casey Cromwell's walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted the first-place Lamar Lady Cardinals to a 4-3 win over Central Arkansas and a sweep of their three-game Southland Conference series at Ford Park on Sunday afternoon.
Cromwell crushed a 1-0 offering from Ciara Clampitt over the fence in left-center as Lamar (12-10 overall, 7-1 Southland) ran its winning streak to seven games and maintained a half-game lead over McNeese State in the conference standings.
"It felt great off the bat," Cromwell said of her game-winning blast. "I wasn't quite sure if it was gone because the wind was blowing in, but I had a good feeling."
The home run was Cromwell's fourth of the season and second walk-off HR of the year. Cromwell homered in walk-off fashion in Lamar's home-opening 6-4 win over Southeastern Louisiana on March 8.
Central Arkansas (14-20, 4-4), which entered the weekend tied with Lamar atop the conference standings, took an early 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Sam Forrest in the second inning. Lamar responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth with Julianne Viator and Stephanie Meeuwsen each having RBI hits in the frame.
The score stood at 3-1 until the top of the seventh when Forrest tied the game with a two-run home run off of Lamar starter Tina Schulz with one out. Schulz gave up two more hits before being lifted for Shannon Millman, who got out of the inning with a bases-loaded double play to keep the game tied at 3.
That set the stage for Cromwell, who delivered with her fourth home run of the season.
"It seems like we have a different hero every game," Lamar coach Holly Bruder said. "We have so many players who can it. It's an amazing feeling know that the one through nine hitters in our lineup can singlehandedly win a game. Today was Casey's turn."
Cromwell, Viator and Schulz had two hits apiece for Lamar. Millman (6-5) improved to 5-0 in the conference by getting the win with 2/3 of an inning of scoreless relief.
Forrest and Whisenhunt had two hits apiece for the Bears. Clampitt fell to 3-9 with the complete-game loss.
"Being in first place is an amazing feeling," Bruder said. "This team is really starting to believe it can do something special."
The Lady Cardinals open a five-game road swing at 6 p.m. Wednesday with a non-conference contest at Texas State. Lamar is at Sam Houston State for a three-game Southland Conference series on March 29 and 30 before heading to Baylor for a single game on April 1. Lamar's next home date is April 5, when Houston Baptist comes to Ford Park for a 3 p.m. doubleheader.