By HAROLD HARMON Sports Writer
February 27, 2014
The Great American Conference softball season is one week into league play and confusion abounds.
When teams play home-and-away schedules each year, many coaches say sweep at home and split on the road.
Great concept, except that somewhere on the road a team has to sneak in a win or two, along with sweeping at home.
One week in, there are no undefeated teams in the GAC. The home-and-away theory has also been shipwrecked.
Northwestern, Harding, Arkansas-Monticello and East Central are 3-1 each.
Northwestern hosted Southern Arkansas and had scores of 3-9, 10-1, 5-4 and 2-1 (8 innings).
Harding hosted Southern Nazarene and had scores of 4-2, 4-8, 5-3 and 2-0.
Monticello visited Southwestern and had scores of 10-7, 8-6, 11-6 and 1-4.
East Central visited Henderson State and had scores of 6-3, 7-3, 11-3 and 3-4.
Two home teams went 3-1, two visiting teams went 3-1.
Southeastern (4-2, 0-1, 9-10 and 3-2) and Ouachita Baptist are 2-2 each with the games being played in Arkadelphia.
Southern Nazarene, Southern Arkansas, Southwestern and Henderson State are 1-3 each.
Arkansas Tech has not played a conference game.
THE LADYSTORM have followed the theory of splitting on the road.
Now it’s time to sweep at home. Easy to write or say, extremely difficult to do.
Harding’s Lady Bisons will bring a 3-1 record to Durant Friday. HU is in a four-way tie for first in the GAC, Southeastern is in a two-way tie for fifth.
Sweeps are extremely difficult to come by this season no matter where the games are played.
The Storm need to sweep. The Lady Bisons need to split.
One of these trains will jump the track this weekend out on N. 1st Avenue here in Durant. The first game each day is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.
This could be a great series for the fans because it is critical despite being just the second week of conference play.
DOCTORS/TRAINERS may turn out to be Most Valuable People this weekend.
Storm fans know Southeastern lost two starting outfielders in the series against Newman University.
Outfielder Darrian Williams, who can run and take away base hits, had an emergency appendectomy. Courtney Riddle, who can hit the ball a long way and had just hammered two long home runs, left the Storm with a power outage.
There is no official word on when either may return to the lineup.
THE STORM SUFFERED from inconsistency in Arkadelphia.
Inconsistency must be sent to the bench quickly for Southeastern to successfully defend its GAC championship.
Five SE players have started all 13 games this year. Three are returnees with second baseman Jessica Simmons swinging the bat at a .486 clip on 18 hits in 37 at-bats. She has four doubles and four stolen bases in seven tries.
Outfielder/designated player Laramie Beal is hitting .447 with three doubles, two home runs and nine runs batted in.
Third baseman Lacie Cook, who hit .365 last season, is batting only .256 this year with several hard shots right at fielders.
Newcomers Sydney Kramer (.513) and Arianna (A.J.) Jones (.308) are swinging the bat well. Kramer has 20 hits in 39 at-bats with five doubles, eight RBIs and four stolen bases in four tries. In four starts, A.J. has one homer and five runs batted in.
Riddle, still sidelined with the injured ankle, is hitting .321 in nine games with two doubles, two home runs and a team-leading 11 RBIs.
Mindy McElroy is 4-2 with a nifty 1.66 earned-run average. She has struck out 16 and walked only five in 33.2 innings.
Shayna Milam is 2-2 with a 3.08 ERA, 17 strikeouts and eight walks in 25 innings.
Jacee Bennett has pitched 25.1 innings with two starts and 11 appearances. She has struck out 21 and walked nine.
Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the Saturday doubleheader is set for an 11 a.m. start. Fans are encouraged to come out and support the LadyStorm in this huge early GAC showdown.