If you like games that are meaningful, come on out to the Southeastern softball field this weekend.
Coach Ron Faubion’s LadyStorm are in first place in the Great American Conference standings by a teeny margin over Northwestern (Storm 25-10, Lady Rangers 23-11). Henderson State is third at 23-13.
As it happens in all good “B” movies, Southeastern is hosting Henderson State this weekend.
To get the hay in the barn and lock the door, the Storm need to win a minimum of three games. Makes one a bit nervous when the teams will play only four.
When Southeastern wins three games against Henderson State, the regular-season championship is in the barn with the hay no matter what other teams do this weekend.
SE has reached this point, a barn-burner weekend with championship on the line, without both starting corner outfielders. Right-fielder Courtney Riddle is limited to designated hitter duty since tearing up an ankle early in the season.
Left-fielder Darrian Williams is out for the year after crashing into the fence to flag down an East Central bid for extra bases when the teams played in Ada on April 8.
Friday’s action gets under way at 2 p.m. and Saturday’s start is set for 12 noon.
Northwestern, if you remember, is not eligible to participate in the GAC tournament due to provisional membership in the GAC. The Lady Rangers can, however claim the regular-season title.
I don’t make the rules. Honest, I don’t.
THE LATEST GAC standings have been released and Southeastern is number one with a 25-10 record.
The Storm’s overall record is 32-14.
Northwestern is second at 23-11 (35-15), Henderson State is third at 23-13 (27-20), Southern Arkansas is fourth at 22-14 (28-22) and Harding is fifth at 22-18 and 30-23.
East Central is sixth at 19-17 (29-22), Arkansas-Monticello seventh at 16-19 (26-24), Arkansas Tech eighth at 15-21 (25-25), Southern Nazarene (also ineligible) is ninth at 12-22 (19-30), Ouachita Baptist is 10th at 12-24 (17-33) and Southwestern 11th at 8-28 (12-36).
Only eight teams make the tournament, scheduled for May 1-3 in Bentonville, Arkansas.
There are 11 teams in the GAC. Two are not eligible for the tournament. This means nine are eligible and seven are already qualified.
This weekend, then will determine the eighth participant and in what order the teams will be seeded.
The LadyStorm need to win three games this weekend against Henderson State. All of the other teams may then go eat grass because nobody can knock Southeastern from the catbird seat.
Teams already qualified for the tournament: SE, HSU, SAU, HU, EC, UA-M and Arkansas Tech. The eighth team will be either Ouachita Baptist or Southwestern.
Weather permitting, the field should be determined by dark:30 Saturday.
SOUTHEASTERN WILL also celebrate Senior Day Saturday.
The five seniors are (numerically) third baseman Lacie Cook (5), pitcher Mindy McElroy (11), first baseman Brittany Wilson (13), pitcher Shayna Milam (14) and outfielder/designated runner Kelsey Overacker (18).
The seniors will be honored prior to Saturday’s 12-noon first pitch.
WITH ONE WEEK of regular-season play remaining, the LadyStorm have collected five Player-/Pitcher of the Week honors.
Outfielder Laramie Beal was named co-Player of the Week back on February 4. McElroy, second baseman Jessica Simmons, shortstop Haley Strawn and Simmons again for her sterling performance last weekend.
Simmons batted .700 (seven for 10) against Southwestern while drawing three walks. She logged a .769 on-base percentage from the leadoff position. She scored seven runs and stole six bases.
She also got her uniform dirty. Really dirty.
THE LADY REDDIES have six players hitting .312 or higher.
Amber Klug, 5-9 senior catcher, checks in at .397, Ashlyn White, 5-10 freshman pitcher, is hitting .374 with six home runs and 35 runs batted in. Tricia Hock, 5-3 junior second baseman, is batting .340 with six doubles, three triples and is 15 of 19 in stolen bases and attempts.
Sarah Gipson, 5-11 junior first baseman, is at .321 with 13 doubles and 33 RBIs, Alicia Zack, 5-6 sophomore shortstop, hits .318 with six steals in seven tries, and Morgan South, 5-3 sophomore third baseman/outfielder, is hitting .312.
Amy Halter, 5-4 junior outfielder, hits .286 with a perfect 14 of 14 on steals.
Cagen Medlock, 5-7 senior, is 13-6 with a 3.47 earned-run average. She has pitched 113 innings, struck out 74 and walked 41 while completing 11 games in 25 starts.
Ashlyn White is 6-3 with a 4.01 ERA in 68 innings.
HSU is hitting .305 as a team with a 3.85 ERA.
THE LADYSTORM will bring a .301 team batting average and a 3.56 ERA.
Simmons leads the way with a .423 average. She also leads the team in runs scored (47), doubles (15) and steals with 31 in 39 attempts.
Sydney Kramer is barely under the magic mark, hitting .399 with team highs in at-bats (153), hits (61), runs batted in (44) and is perfect with six steals in six attempts.
Beal is batting .391 with a team-high nine home runs, 40 RBIs and a .669 slugging percentage.
Strawn checks in at .353 with five homers. She wears a vacuum sweeper instead of a glove in the field.
Arianna (A.J.) Jones is close at .291 with three doubles and three home runs.
McElroy leads the circle crew with an 18-7 record and a 2.34 ERA. In 152.2 innings, she has walked only 21 while striking out 48 and holding opponents to a .256 average.
Milam is 6-2 with a 3.28 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 20 walks in 59.2 innings. She holds opponents to a .284 average. Jacee Bennett is 8-5 with a 5.29 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 80.2 innings.
IF YOU LIKE watching meaningful games, come on out to the Southeastern softball field Friday and Saturday.
Friday’s start is set for 2 p.m. and the balloon goes up at noon Saturday.
Saturday is also Senior Day for your viewing pleasure. The five seniors will be honored just before the 12 noon first pitch.