By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
The ACU softball team kicks off its home schedule Friday and Saturday as the host of the annual Diamond Dame Classic at Wells Field.
ACU is coming off a successful weekend at the Lone Star Conference First-Pitch Tournament in Irving, where it won four of five games to improve its record to 5-4.
Two other teams are competing in the tournament: Emporia State (Kan.) and St. Mary’s. Emporia State comes to Abilene with a 2-0 record, and St. Mary’s (7-2) finished 54-11 and won the Division II national championship last season.
“We’re excited,” head coach Carol Tabor said. “Ever since the inception of our program, we’ve never shied away from inviting top teams here to play. It’s good to invite top teams to see where we are and realize we can compete with those kind of teams.”
The Wildcats start off the tournament Friday at noon against Emporia State, then take on St. Mary’s at 2 p.m. On Saturday the Cats play St. Mary’s at 11 a.m. and Em-poria State at 1 p.m. to wrap up their round-robin play.
Junior third baseman J.D. Williams said the team isn’t concerned too much with playing defending champ St. Mary’s.
“I didn’t even know they were defending national champs until a few minutes ago,” she said. “We like raising up to other teams’ levels. Whenever we do that, it comes down to hitting, and our lineup is solid.”
Sophomore rightfielder Katie Bryan is batting .556 with a team-high eight RBI, while junior second baseman Robin Woodall has a .360 batting average with seven RBI. Junior pitcher Christina Yorkey, who should see plenty of action this weekend from the mound, is 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA in five starts for ACU.
Yorkey might have her hands full with St. Mary’s standout junior first baseman Jennifer Survant, who is batting .458 with 11 RBI and two home runs on the season.
“This weekend’s all about fundamentals,” Tabor said. “We need to believe in what we prepared to do, and if we do that, it’s anybody’s ballgame.
“We have every element that’s needed to win every single game this weekend,” she said. “We want to be 4-0 by the end of Saturday.”