By HAROLD HARMON
April 3, 2014
What has 18 conference games left, has already played 22 conference games and only 11 non-conference games?
LadyStorm softball, of course, members of the GAC (goofy accounting center).
With no more bad weather, coach Ron Faubion’s young ladies will finish with a 51-game schedule. Weather has already cost the team nine games, including the Southeastern Regional Invitational at Durant’s All-Sports Complex, one game in San Antonio, Texas, at the St. Mary’s tourney and a doubleheader against Missouri Southern.
GAC softball plays, or at least schedules, 40 conference games. This leaves little or no time to play strong non-conference opponents which helps (or hurts) greatly in the rankings.
It doesn’t make any sense to play so many conference games. Repeat that: It doesn’t make any sense to play so many conference games.
Should any GAC softball team lose a pitcher for a four-game weekend series or perhaps two four-game series, the conference race could well be hopelessly out of sight.
GAC baseball plays a 3-game weekend series with the same number of teams.
I’m sure there is a good reason why softball couldn’t play a 3-game weekend series and leave some room for non-conference scheduling.
Please explain that reason to me. Please.
THE LATEST GAC standings show Southeastern on top with a 16-6 conference record and a 23-10 overall mark.
Northwestern is second at 14-6 and 24-10; Henderson State is third at 18-8 and 22-15; Southern Arkansas is fourth at 15-11 and 20-16; East Central is fifth at 12-10 and 20-15.
Arkansas-Monticello is tied for sixth at 13-13 and 22-17; Harding is 13-13 and 21-18; Arkansas Tech is eighth at 8-14 and 16-18; Ouachita Baptist is ninth at 7-15 and 11-23; Southern Nazarene is 10th at 6-16 and 12-23; Southwestern is 11th at 6-16 and 10-24.
The top-four schedule for this weekend has Southeastern at Monticello, Northwestern at Arkansas Tech and Southern Arkansas at East Central. Henderson does not play this weekend.
The trip to Monticello is the first of 10-consecutive road games for the Storm. The short haul to East Central comes up April 8 for two games and the long haul to Northwestern is scheduled for April 11-12.
THE LADYSTORM, after 32 games, have a .302 team batting average that features three hitters above the .400 mark.
Sydney Kramer leads the way at .422 with team highs of 109 at-bats, 46 hits and 12 doubles. She is also six for six in stolen bases and attempts.
Laramie Beal is next at .409 and leads the team with eight home runs.
Jessica Simmons checks in at .406 and leads the team with 32 runs scored, 16 bases on balls and 23 steals in 29 tries.
Haley Strawn is batting .327 with four steals in four attempts.
Lacie Cook has recovered from a sluggish start and is now hitting .292 and leads with 16 sacrifice bunts.
Mindy McElroy leads the pitching staff with a 12-4 record, eight complete games and a 1.97 earned-run average in 99.2 innings pitched. She is holding opponents to a .257 average.
Shayna Milam is 3-2 with a 3.29 ERA and28 strikeouts in 44.2 innings.
Jacee Bennett is 8-4 with a 4.48 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 70.1 innings.
THE COTTON BLOSSOMS of Arkansas-Monticello could really improve their situation with a sweep of the LadyStorm.
Can’t predict the outcome of the four-game series, but can guarantee the Storm will get the Blossoms’ best effort in every game.
The Cotton Blossoms have a shot at knocking off the conference leader on the UA-M field and Southeastern can’t afford physical errors or mental mistakes.
Kali Piha, a 5-3 sophomore outfielder, leads Monticello with a .415 batting average, 34 runs scored, 56 hits, 12 doubles, eight home runs and 35 runs batted in. She is also six for seven in stolen bases and attempts.
Beth Johnson, 5-5 senior outfielder, is hitting .398 with six homers and 30 RBIs.
McKenzie Rice, 5-7 freshman utility player, is next at .397 and Hannah Pendley, 5-7 senior outfielder, is hitting .371 with 24 stolen bases in 29 attempts.
Courtney Wilson, 5-10 senior pitcher, is 10-6 with a 3.01 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 97.2 innings.
Katie Slaughter, 5-7 junior, is 11-9 with a 3.42 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 139.1 innings.