The Southeastern offense disappeared at the worst possible time on Saturday, suffering a pair of losses to Southern Arkansas, dropping the first game 4-0 before suffering an 8-0 loss in the “if game” at the Great American Conference Tournament in Bentonville, Ark.
In the noon contest the SE offense struggled to get moving, with Jessica Simmons, Sydney Kramer and Laramie Beal each collecting a hit, but not being able to push a run across.
In the circle, Mindy McElroy was handed her first loss of the postseason after winning the first three games in complete game fashion. She tossed 3.0 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits.
Jacee Bennett came on in relief and tossed 4.0 scoreless inning, scattering two hits and striking out three.
SAU opened the game with back-to-back solo homers to take a 2-0 lead and added two more runs in the second to take the 4-0 lead which would hold to be the final tally.
The going did not get any better after SAU forced the if necessary game, with the Muleriders opening the contest with a five run first inning and adding three more in the second to go up 8-0 which would hold to be the final score.
Lacie Cook collected the first hit of the day, but not until the fourth inning, with Haley Strawn and Arianna Jones adding a hit each in the fifth, but the Storm was unable to push a run across to keep the game alive past five innings.
McElroy got the start again, but recorded just one out, allowing five runs, four earned, on four hits.
Bennett came on to toss 1.2 innings and allowed three runs, two earned, on three hits before Shayna Milam came on to finish the contest and allowed just one hit in 3.0 innings of work.
McElroy, Strawn and Beal were each named to the All-GAC Tournament team as the Storm finish the weekend 3-2 and will now await their fate for the Central Region field which will be announced Monday, May 5.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Three down, one to go.
Southeastern’s LadyStorm jumped out early, withstood a 2-run second inning by Southern Arkansas and broke out the bats to post a 9-2 victory Friday and punch their ticket to Saturday’s championship game in the Great American Conference tournament.
Coach Ron Faubion’s young ladies didn’t know their opponent until way late Friday night with Monticello and Henderson State playing for a shot at Southern Arkansas to determine who comes through the loser’s bracket to take on the Storm.
Mindy McElroy again pitched a complete game, her third of the tournament and fifth in a row including the last two regular-season victories over Henderson State.
Through 22 innings at Bentonville, McElroy has given up three runs with only two earned. The Storm ran its record to 38-15 and McElroy improved to 24-7.
Coach Faubion said, “We came out and hit them in the mouth, then they turned around and hit us in the mouth. Our kids had enough to shut them down and we just kept hitting and scoring.
“They really ripped the ball a few times, once on a drive to left that Arianna (Jones) caught and once to third that Lacie (Cook) caught. Haley Strawn made several great plays at short and we just had good hitting all up and down the lineup.
“Mindy shut down their hitters and we played great defense along with hitting and scoring. We beat a very good pitcher in Hanna Gill.
“We got a scare in the second inning when Jessica (Simmons) came up limping after scoring her second run of the game. She came back and finished the game or we would have had to make some drastic lineup changes.
“Laramie Beal really hit the ball well. Sydney Kramer and Mindy had good days at the plate.
“We’re just going to get some rest and try to be ready to play in the championship game.”
Southeastern is one win away from duplicating their doubledip of last year – winning the regular-season and the conference championships.
The tournament winner gets the GAC’s automatic bid into the regionals.
Lady Storm 9 - Southern Arkansas 2
The Storm opened the scoring in the top of the first when Simmons led off with a single to center, Kramer reached on a one-out error by the second baseman and moved to third on Beal’s first of four-consecutive hits, a single to left.
Strawn lifted a fly ball to center field to plate Simmons with the first run of the game.
SE added two in the top of the second. McElroy delivered a one-out single to start the rally and Lauren Renneker sacrificed her to second. Simmons ripped a shot to right field that scored McElroy.
Simmons stole second and third and walked home on Lacie Cook’s single up the middle to make it 3-0.
SAU took its shot in the bottom of the second and came up short.
Four hits chased in a pair for the Lady Muleriders, but McElroy used a strikeout and pop to third to end the rally and the inning.
It also ended Southern Arkansas’ scoring for the day. McElroy retired the next five in a row and put down seven of the last eight batters to end the game.
Southeastern didn’t score in the third, but plated four in the fourth.
Simmons walked with one out, her third-straight time to reach base, and Cook followed with another free pass.
Kramer hammered a two-run triple to left, Beal drove in a run with a double into the right-field corner to drive in another and McElroy’s sharp grounder to short was bobbled to let Beal score the fourth run and make it 7-2, Storm. The LadyStorm added two in the sixth when Beal led off with her fourth hit in a row and scored on Courtney Riddle’s single off the shortstop’s glove.
A.J. doubled to left, Mindy reached on a fielder’s choice and Renneker’s double to left drove in pinch-runner Conner Harmon with the final run of the game.
Fittingly, the eventual winning run was scored by Simmons in the second when she made it 3-2, Storm.
McElroy allowed two earned runs on seven hits and slammed the door on the hard-hitting Lady Muleriders.
Beal sparked the Storm with four for five, a double, two runs scored and one batted in.
Simmons and McElroy were two for four each. Simmons scored three, drew a walk, drove in a run and stole two bases. McElroy scored one run.
Kramer was two for five with her second triple of the tournament, scored a run and drove in two.
Riddle was one for two with a run scored. A. J. and Renneker were each one for three with a double. Cook closed it out with one for four and one batted in.