By Chandler Harris, Assistant Sports Editor
The ACU softball team won four games at the South Central Shootout in Durant, Okla., on Friday and Saturday.
The Wildcats defeated Nebraska-Omaha 10-2 in five innings. Nebraska-Omaha was selected to win the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), according to the MIAA Preseason Poll. Then, the Wildcats defeated Fort Hayes State, also by the score 10-2 in five innings, to wrap up the day.
The team won a rematch against Washburn 4-2 to begin the tournament Friday. The Wildcats’ most impressive victory of the weekend came when they defeated No. 19 Central Missouri 10-0 on Friday. In the game against Nebraska-Omaha, pitcher Jacque Gregoire pitched all five innings, allowing no earned runs. The team scored three runs in the first inning and led 3-2 in the fifth, when they scored five runs to end the game due to the eight-run rule.
“Jacque pitched a great game with five strikeouts and she got key outs to end innings,” head coach Chantiel Wilson said.
First baseman Katie Corneilson had a big hit to start the seven-run fifth inning ,and outfielder Shelby McElvain went 3-for-4.
On Friday, in the Wildcats’ win over Washburn, pitcher Britney Benedict picked up her first win of the season, throwing a complete game. Benedict allowed just one earned run and struck out six Lady Blues in the victory. Benedict also allowed only one extra base hit, which prevented Washburn from putting a late rally together.
The Wildcat offense came through in a big way with solo home runs from second baseman Jackie Gentile and McElvain. Corneilson continued her hitting spree of late, as she went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
The Wildcats’ pitching maintained its high level of performance Friday afternoon, as Gregoire threw a complete game shutout. It was Gregoire’s first shutout of the season, as she faced just four batters above the minimum, while striking out seven and allowing no walks.
Corneilson drove in another four runs, while infielder Melissa Rodriguez had two doubles. Infielder Jenny Kulp drove in three runs to go with her three hits. This is the Wildcats’ first win over a nationally ranked opponent this season.
“The Central Missouri game was a great game,” Wilson said. “We knew of their national ranking going in, but we don’t let that preseason poll get into our heads. We scored one run in the first and kept going from there and had another great game at the plate from our hitters.
ACU has scored 30 runs on 30 hits in the the four games so far in the South Central Shootout including three straight wins decided by the run rule.
The Wildcats will wrap up play at the South Central Shootout with two games Sunday. The team will play Pittsburg State at 10 a.m. and Newman at 4 p.m.
“Pitt State and Newman both have competed well against our stronger LSC opponents,” Wilson said. “We are going to have to come out and hit like we have the past three games.”