By Brian Roe, Sports Writer
The ACU softball team stumbles into Lone Star Conference South Division play after losing a pair of games to Incarnate Word at Wells Field Tuesday night.
The struggling Wildcats have lost seven straight games and nine of their last 11 games. ACU now owns a record of nine wins and 17 losses.
ACU battled Incarnate Word on Tuesday, keeping each game within reach. Junior pitcher Lacey Beaston pitched all seven innings for the Wildcats in the nail-biting 4-3 loss in the opener.
Beaston was charged with only two earned runs in the outing. Junior infielder Katie Bryan led the offensive attack for the Wildcats, reaching base in two of her three at-bats and knocking in one of the three runs for ACU.
In the second game, sophomore pitcher Heather Cochran tossed a complete game: eight innings, three earned runs and a pair of strike outs. Cochran, however, followed suit and was charged with the loss, as Incarnate Word won its 17th game of the season, while dealing the Wildcats their 17th loss of the season.
ACU received offensive production from its two catchers: junior catcher Ashley Whittenberg and senior catcher Heather Hicks, who served as the designated hitter for the team. Each back-stopper had a pair of hits and knocked in runs for the Wildcats.
Offense, though inconsistent, has performed thus far for the Wildcats in 2004. Three hitters (Valerie Malkinson, Michele Gereaux and Bryan) are currently hitting above the .400 mark. Malkinson and Bryan also each have at least 25 RBI for ACU.
Defense, on the other hand, has proven costly for the Wildcats in 2004. The Wildcats have committed 61 errors, compared to their opponents’ 37.
Pitching woes have also hindered the Wildcats this season. ACU is ranked next-to-last in team ERA in the entire Lone Star Conference.
Freshman pitcher Allison Crause, who injured her right pitching hand, said the team must have more concentration heading into conference play.
“We have to focus more and take every play and every pitch seriously,” she said. “Conference play comes down to who wants it more.”
ACU will open conference play in Abilene at Wells Field today at 5 p.m. with a doubleheader against Tarleton State.