By Brian Roe, Sports Writer
The ACU softball team split a four-game series with No. 11-ranked Texas Woman’s at Pioneer Field last weekend and put itself back in contention for a spot in the Lone Star Conference Post-Season tournament.
The visiting Wildcats opened the series Friday with a 6-0 victory over TWU. Freshman pitcher Allison Crouse led the way for ACU, tossing a seven-inning shut out. Crouse did not walk a single hitter and only allowed six hits.
Junior third baseman Valerie Malkinson fueled the Wildcat offense when she hit a fifth-inning grand slam that gave ACU a 4-0 lead.
ACU added two runs in the seventh when sophomore infielder Heather Cochran registered a fielder’s choice RBI and junior catcher Ashley Whittenberg scored on an error.
In Game 2, TWU bounced back to beat the Wildcats, 8-5. ACU jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but the lead would soon fizzle. Cochran gave up six runs in the first two innings from the pitcher’s circle to seal the deal for TWU.
Junior infielder Kristin Alvarado attempted to bring the Wildcats back when she hit a home run in the fifth inning, but the TWU offense responded again scoring two more runs to finish the Wildcats off.
Games 3 and 4 featured two teams clearly battling for the one playoff spot. Each game went into extra innings and was decided by one run.
In Game 3, the Wildcats delivered their 18th victory of the season in exhilarating fashion with a 6-5, eight-inning win. Crouse again picked up the win for ACU, throwing all eight innings for the Wildcats and gaining her sixth win of the season.
Errors haunted ACU in game three, as they dropped the final game of the series to TWU, 5-4, in eight innings. ACU committed three crucial errors and gave up six stolen bases that led to two unearned runs and the eventual victory for TWU.
Crouse again pitched strong, scattering 13 hits in the game. She struck out two, walked one and was charged with three earned runs. The Wildcat offense managed only four runs and only two RBI-one from junior infielder Katie Bryan and one from Alvarado.
Despite its slow start to the season, ACU has bounced back and now has the opportunity to clinch a spot in the LSC Post-Season tournament. The Wildcats currently sit in fourth place in the LSC South. The top three teams from the division advance to the tournament.
“The pre-season polls predicted we would finish at the bottom in the South Division but I know this team can play well enough to get into the post-season,” said head coach Chantiel Wilson.
The Wildcats are 18-26 overall and 7-9 in the LSC South Division. Texas Woman’s holds the third and final playoff spot with an 8-6 record in the LSC South Division.
ACU can clinch a playoff spot this weekend against the LSC South Division-leading Angelo State Rambelles. The Wildcats travel to San Angelo on Friday for a four game-series against the fifth-ranked Rambelles, who own a 12-2 division record.