Lady Lions’ historic season comes to a bitter end in Lake Charles


Troy Allen

Southeastern finished the 2023 season with a program-best 47 wins led by Head Coach Rick Fremin.

Southeastern softball fell to host McNeese in the Southland Conference Championship game two weeks ago today (May 13), 1-0 in extra innings. 

Senior pitcher KK Ladner’s superb outing ended in a loss (L, 15-2) as sophomore shortstop Reese Reyna’s walk-off homerun with two outs in the bottom of the eighth provided the only run of the entire game. 

Ladner was pitching a one hitter up to that point, with the Cowgirls lone base knock coming in the form of a single back in the fifth inning. SLU’s senior ace pitched 7.2 innings while tossing 123 total pitches, giving up one run on just two hits and five strikeouts. 

The Lady Lions outhit McNeese seven to two for the contest but left eight runners on base which proved costly in the end. 

Southeastern’s record setting season ends in heartbreak as they fall to the Cowgirls in the SLC Tournament title for the second year running as well as finishing runner up to them in the standings each of the last two campaigns. 

SLU can hold their heads high knowing they set a school record for wins with 47 and also held the most victories of any team left out of the field of 64 in the NCAA Tournament. 

The Green and Gold finished the 2022-23 campaign at a gaudy 47-14 (19-5 SLC) and won every single Southland Conference series during the regular season including taking two out of three from McNeese at North Oak Park. 

The Cowgirls end their season at 47-16 (21-3 SLC) only losing one other SLC game all season besides the two to the Lady Lions in Hammond. 

McNeese crashed out of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night (May 21) after nearly beating No. 7 national seed Washington twice coming out of the loser’s bracket. 

The SLC champions beat Minnesota 5-4 in their first game before losing to the Huskies 3-1 in the winner’s bracket showdown. The Cowgirls then saddled up, beating the Golden Gophers again 1-0 before beating Washington by the same score to set up a winner take all game for a Super Regional bid. 

Despite getting to be the de facto home team and jumping to a 6-0 lead through six innings, McNeese collapsed in the top of the last, giving up seven runs to the Huskies who would blank the Cowgirls in the bottom of the seventh to clinch their advancement out of their Regional. 

Washington will advance to host ULL who upset No. 10 national seed LSU in Baton Rouge by beating the Tigers twice on Sunday after losing to them earlier in the Regional in the winner’s bracket matchup. 

Southeastern’s SLC Tournament journey went as so: beat No. 7 seed HCU 7-1, beat No. 6 NW State 13-1, lose to No. 1 McNeese 6-2 in winner’s bracket game, blank No. 4 Lamar 8-0 and lose to No. 1 McNeese 1-0 in the championship. 

SLU would’ve needed to beat McNeese twice if they wanted to lift the Southland Conference Tournament trophy. 

Despite falling short of their ultimate goal of winning their first piece of silverware in program history, the Lady Lions racked up in the awards department. 

Junior catcher Bailey Krolczyk was named Southland Conference Player of the Year as well as Southland Conference Hitter of the Year and was a first team ALL-SLC selection for the second year running. 

She was joined on the first team by junior first baseman Lexi Johnson and junior designated player Audrey Greely while junior center fielder and senior pitcher KK Ladner were both named to the ALL-SLC second team. 

Krolczyk also earned third team All-South Region team honors by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and became just the seventh Lady Lion softball student-athlete to be awarded this token of excellence in school history.  

Greely has been an All-SLC selection the last three seasons, including joining Krolczyk the last two years on the first team. 

Southeastern will only lose two players to eligibility during the offseason in Ladner and fellow senior Mississipian second baseman Madison Rayner. 

A member of the All-SLC second team, Ladner was nothing short of dominant in the circle this season. The Southern Miss transfer made her best season her last in Hammond, leading SLU in ERA (.192), IP (127.2), WHIP (1.02), OBA (.199 – conference best) and SO (147). 

Rayner, who also transferred to Southeastern from Southern Miss, has been a key cog in the Lady Lions’ lineup since arriving on campus for the 2022 season with her partner in crime. 

The Stringer, Miss. native made All-SLC second team herself last year and was the only SLU player besides junior first baseman Lexi Johnson to start in all 61 games in 2023. 

Rayner batted .299 with 50 hits, eight doubles, four triples and three home runs to pair with 34 RBIs this season in a stacked Southeastern lineup. 

While the 2023 campaign ended agonizingly short of a Southland Conference title, this squad will be remembered in the history books with a school-record 47 wins for the year and will go into 2024 returning a vast majority of its production. 

The future is bright in Hammond, America for the softball program under Head Coach Rick Fremin who has the Lady Lions knocking on the door of glory. Will 2024 be the year of breakthrough? It could very well be…

Stay tuned to for further updates on everything Southeastern athletics.