It doesn’t take much … A weekend split at Henderson State cost Southeastern softball a shot at moving up to No. 1 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll.
Valdosta (Georgia) State has topped every poll this season until a 4-2 week dropped the Blazers to second and paved the way for West Texas A&M University to claim the No. 1 spot.
West Texas is on a nine-game winning streak and boasts a 19-1 mark. The lone loss, by the way, came when Southeastern beat the Lady Buffs 3-2 in the championship game of the NFCA Divison II Leadoff Classic in Tucson, Arizona.
Southeastern fell from second to No. 5 with Indianapolis (18-2) third and Armstrong Atlantic (17-2-1) fourth.
The Storm split also put SE into a two-way tie for second place in the Great American Conference race.
Southeastern is 21-6 overall and tied at 6-2 with Northwestern in the GAC standings. Northwestern is on probationary status with the league and not eligible for the regular-season championship or post-season play. Arkansas-Monticello, this weekend’s opponent, is atop the GAC poll at 17-9 overall and 5-1 in league competition.
After a conference-opening split at East Central, the second day’s games were weathered out and cannot be rescheduled.
Northwestern is 7-5 overall and 6-2 in conference play. East Central is fourth at 16-6 and 4-2. Weather and field conditions led to East Central having to cancel a four-game series with Southeastern and two of four games with Monticello.
Southern Arkansas is 14-12 and 6-4; Henderson State is 13-15 and 7-5; Arkansas Tech is 10-11 and 6-6; Southern Nazarene, also probationary, is now 9-15 and 3-9; Ouachita Baptist is 9-19 and 3-9; and Southwestern is 6-18 and 2-8.
The 2013 edition of LadyStorm softball has wins over No. 1 West Texas and No. 10 Texas Woman’s University (5-1, 6-3), as well as victories over teams receiving votes University of California-San Diego (2-1) and Augustana (1-0).
SOUTHEASTERN is the only Great American Conference school listed in the NFCA’s latest Top 25 poll.
The GAC softball teams play each other four times a year, which eats up a bunch of the schedule. In plain language, this means that softball should definitely go to a 3-game conference series the way baseball handles it.
The four-game series denies teams a chance to go outside the conference and play ranked regional teams. That’s why Southeastern goes to the St. Mary’s tournament in San Antonio and the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Tucson. Those events offer a chance to play other ranked teams and be seen by coaches who serve as raters for the polls.
Not all teams want to compete against tougher competition and the new format wouldn’t cause them any problems. They could still play four-game series against each other, but only the first three would count in conference standings.
That fourth game would count in the win-loss column and everybody would have at least close to the same number of games. No harm, no foul.
As it is, there’s plenty of harm to teams who want to play better competition but can’t because of the conference schedule.
This doesn’t seem to be a situation that would cause sleepless nights and gnashing of teeth around the GAC. Those who like the status quo could just keep on keeping on. Those who would like to improve the schedule would have an opportunity to do that with the mandatory fourth conference game no longer mandatory.
Looks like a win-win to some of us simple folks.
Speaking of conference games, it seems like they should be played. Rain happens. Schedule makers should be smart enough to understand this and make allowances.
Read my fingers: Conference games should have a provision for make-up dates. It’s ridiculous to make a schedule way ahead of time and make no allowance for rain three-four months down the road.
Teams suffer because of this silly stance. Teams are about kids and this should be about kids, not some schedule makers somewhere drinking coffee or something and setting playing dates in stone.
Okay, end of sermon. Please send donations to me in care of the Durant Daily Democrat.
THIS BRINGS US to the weekend coming up shortly.
That’s when Southeastern travels to Monticello to play a four-game series with Arkansas-Monticello’s Cotton Blossoms. Friday’s games will start at 1 p.m. with Saturday’s scheduled for the first pitch at noon.
The Blossoms hosted and split a twinbill with Delta State Wednesday, losing 3-0 and winning 9-0 in five innings to make the season record 18-10.
Southeastern will take a .298 team batting average and a 2.87 earned run average into the Monticello series.
Six players are hitting above .300 with catcher Courtney “Speedy” Moore leading the way at .389 while also leading the team with four home runs, six doubles and 22 runs batted in. She tops the chart with a painful 10 times being hit by pitches. She has also stolen four bases in four tries, including a key steal of home.
Moore was hit five times in the HSU series. Jessica Simmons is batting .348 with team highs in at-bats (89), hits (31), runs (26) and stolen bases (23 of 26).
Lacie Cook is hitting .324 with five doubles and 10 sacrifice hits. Rachel Jones checks in with a .317 average.
Mindy McElroy and Courtney Riddle are each hitting .385 on the year. McElroy has two doubles, Riddle three. Each has hit one home run and it was a grand slam.
McElroy is 9-2 in the circle and Jacee Bennett is 11-3. McElroy has struck out 40 in 84 innings and has a 1.58 ERA. Bennett has recorded 90 strikeouts in 88.1 innings and has a 2.93 ERA.
Monticello is hitting .282 with a 2.14 ERA heading into the SE series.
Katie Slaughter (9-2) is the top pitcher with 71.1 innings, 54 strikeouts against only four walks and a 1.77 ERA.
Leading hitters are Maggie Sands (.420), Beth Johnson (.358, six home runs, 22 RBIs) and Brittany Eitel (.300, three triples).