Southeastern softballers will open the Great American Conference campaign with a trip to Ouachita Baptist University this weekend.
Ten of the 11 conference schools will GAC it up with Arkansas Tech the lone holdout.
Harding (6-3) will host Southern Nazarene (5-4); Henderson State (4-7) will host East Central (8-5); Southwestern (3-5) will host Arkansas-Monticello (6-3); Northwestern (8-2) will host Southern Arkansas (5-5) and SE (5-4) will visit OBU (4-6).
The split with Newman University over the weekend dropped Southeastern out of the NFCA Division II Top 25 Poll, but the LadyStorm did receive votes.
No. 1 Central Oklahoma (6-5), No. 7 Indianapolis (4-4), No. 12 St. Martin’s (2-5), No. 17 Angelo State (9-5) and No. 25 Columbus State (9-4) also dropped out.
LadyStorm coach Ron Faubion said, “We hurt ourselves in the poll with the Saturday losses. Now we have to take care of business in the GAC, just like we did last year. We don’t have any room for slipups in conference play, which makes Saturday’s games at Ouachita Baptist that much more important.
“Every conference game we play will be important, but we really need a good start on the road this weekend.”
THE LADYSTORM will head to Arkansas this weekend without two starting outfielders.
Junior left fielder Darrian Williams had an emergency appendectomy early Sunday morning after missing both Saturday games.
She somehow showed up at the field for Sunday’s second game. She also celebrated her 21st birthday Monday.
Sophomore right fielder Courtney Riddle hammered two home runs, scored twice, drove in five runs in the first game and was one for two in the second when she rolled her ankle at first base.
Riddle, the leading hitter last year at .420, is wearing a boot and getting treatment, but no word on her return.
On the plus side, junior newcomer Arianna Jones has been released for duty in the outfield. She is coming off Tommy John surgery and is now cleared to throw.
Faubion said, “Losing Darrian and Courtney is really tough, but getting A.J. back early will help in this case. We may have to make some position moves, but I think we will be able to field a solid team.”
A.J. is fleet of foot, which means she can get from here to there in a hurry. She will add speed to the outfield if necessary and definitely on the bases.
SOUTHEASTERN will take a .289 team batting average and 2.60 earned-run average into conference play this weekend.
Sydney Kramer, Jessica Simmons, Laramie Beal, Courtney Riddle, Lacie Cook and Haley Strawn have each started all nine games this year.
Kramer leads the team in hitting at .542 (third in the GAC), runs scored with eight, hits with 13 and stolen bases (four in four attempts.)
Simmons is second at .423 and three for four in steals.
Beal is hitting .385, Riddle .321 with team highs in home runs (two) and RBIs (11).
Mindy McElroy and Shayna Milam are each 2-1 in the circle. McElroy has a 1.42 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 19.2 innings. Milam is at 2.85 with 13 whiffs in 19.2 innings.
Jacee Bennett is 1-2 with a 3.75 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 18.2 innings. She led the nation in saves last season with eight and has two this year.
OUACHITA BAPTIST defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff 7-0 Wednesday afternoon and improved to 4-6 on the season.
Senior Abbi Frakes went six innings to get the win, but no records were posted. Records are not currently updated on the season stats. Best guess is she may be 4-3 overall.