Mindy McElroy got the start in the first game Saturday and also in the second game with just a dab of pressure on her.
The LadyStorm knew Northwestern had already completed a sweep and Southeastern had to do the same to claim the Great American Conference regular-season championship.
The Storm had already locked up the No. 1 seed in the GAC tournament that starts Thursday in Bentonville, Arkansas.
On a warm day that drained energy, McElroy was superbly up to the task. After the Storm took a 6-2 win in the first game, Mindy took a deep breath and started game two.
Henderson State broke loose for four runs in the first inning of the all-important second contest. Mindy took another deep breath and kept pitching.
Her 203rd pitch of the day was a 2-2 delivery that had Kayla Williams slashing air for the final out that let SE repeat as GAC regular-season champions.
That strikeout was the first of the day for McElroy and it ended a Henderson State comeback bid to give SE a heart-stopping 7-6 victory.
Back-to-back complete games on the hottest day of Southeastern’s 2014 campaign was an absolute gut-check for the senior righthander.
Didn’t seem to be a problem. Thank goodness.
THE GAC TOURNAMENT bracket has been released and top-seeded Southeastern will take on Ouachita Baptist (8th seed) at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Tiger Athletic Complex in Bentonville, Akansas.
Southeastern is now 35-15 overall and 28-11 in GAC play. Ouachita Baptist is now 18-36 overall and 13-27 in the GAC.
Before you mark this one in the win column, think back to the first GAC action of the year. Southeastern traveled to Arkadelphia to take on the OBU Tigers. The trip ended in a split of the four-game series.
On any given day …
Here’s the way the entire tournament bracket looks for the first round on Thursday.
No. 3 Henderson State (28-23) will play No. 6 Arkansas Tech (31-25) in the first game at 10 a.m. Thursday, followed by No. 2 Southern Arkansas (32-23) and the No. 7 University of Arkansas-Monticello at noon.
Southeastern and Ouachita Baptist battle at 2 p.m. with No. 4 Harding (31-24) taking on No. 5 East Central (32-23) at 4 p.m. to wrap up the first round.
The HSU-Tech winner will play the Southern Arkansas-Monticello winner at 6 p.m. with the Southeastern-Ouachita Baptist meeting at 8 p.m.
The HSU-ATU loser will play the SAU-UAM loser at 6 p.m. at Memorial Park. The SE-OBU loser will play the HU-EC loser at 8 p.m. in elimination games.
The bracket goes crazy from there on in this double-elimination shootout.
Clearly, the best plan is to win the tournament in four straight games. Or you could win it in five or seven games.
Four is better.
TOURNAMENT GAMES will not be broadcast locally, but fans will have the opportunity to the games by going to the Southeastern web site, gosoutheastern.com and clicking on the link that will be posted by SE Sports Information Director Matt Thomas.
Internet telecasts have improved tremendously since the earlier efforts and are now much more enjoyable.
COACH RON FAUBION’S young ladies are led offensively by Jessica Simmons and her .430 batting average.
Simmons also leads the team in runs (51), hits (65), doubles (17), walks (26), hit by pitch (5) on-base percentage (.527) and steals (31 of 39).
Sydney Kramer is hitting .390 with a team-high 47 runs batted in. Laramie Beal is batting .384 with team highs in home runs (9), total bases (95) and slugging percentage (.651). Haley Strawn is hitting .371 with a team-high in assists (142).
In the circle, McElroy is 21-7 with a 2.42 earned-run average in 173.1 innings. She is holding opponents to a .258 batting average.
Shayna Milam is -3 and Jacee Bennett is 8-5.
Ouachita Baptist comes in hitting .264 as a team and having a 4.91 team ERA.
The LadyStorm will almost certainly face senior Abbi Frakes, a 5-10 senior pitcher who is very good despite a deceptive 11-18 record. She has struck out 130 while walking 62 in 205 innings. She has started 28 games and completed 23, but suffers from a team with less than ideal firepower behind her.
The Lady Tigers have hit only 22 home runs and driven in 169 while stealing 33 bases in 42 attempts. Opponents have hit 42 homers and driven in 278 while stealing 60 bases in 79 attempts.
OBU’s Kailey Madden is hitting .344 with four home runs and 28 RBIs. Brianne Baley is at .309 with four homers and 18 runs batted in.
Southeastern and Ouachita Baptist will play at 2 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the Great American Conference postseason tournament.
The LadyStorm won the regular-season and tournament championships last.
The LadyStorm have won the regular-season title this year and are trying to complete back-to-back sweeps by winning the conference tournament.