By Ryan Cantrell, Sports Writer
The Wildcats swept Eastern New Mexico last weekend and got help from Texas A&M Kingsville, which took the first game from Angelo State, to clinch the LSC South Division title.
This is only the second time in the school’s history that ACU has won the LSC south title. The Wildcats last won the title back in 2006. The title also means the Wildcats will be one of two hosts for the first round of the LSC postseason tournament.
“It was really exciting and a big accomplishment for our team,” head softball coach Chantiel Wilson said. “We finished in front of Angelo State, who was the No. 1 team in the nation and they are No. 2 now; it just shows you how hard your team has worked all year.”
The Wildcats bats came alive this weekend as the players finished with eight home runs for the series; three of these came from Jenny Kulp, who was batting in the eighth spot. Kulp had a huge series going four for nine and driving in 7 RBIs. The Wildcats scored 11 runs in their first two games and eight in the final game, run ruling the Zias and completing the sweep.
Brittney Benedict pitched well again in the first game Friday, giving up only three hits and two runs. Benedict improved her record to 5-4 on the season.
Benedict started the second game and went 1 1/3 innings, giving up three hits and four runs although only one of them was earned. Kim Partin came in relief and struggled giving up six hits and three runs in 1 2/3 innings before Jacque Gregoire came in and shut them down. It was 7-7 when she entered the game, and she did not allow a hit, walk or run the rest of the game. She struck out six in four innings of play and got the win as the Wildcats added four runs to break the tie. Gregoire improved her record to 18-4 this season.
“It is always difficult playing up there [Eastern New Mexico] with the wind conditions and tough field,” Coach Wilson said. “We prepared for them to hit. We expected them to score and they even got seven runs in the second game. We did a great job of matching them and putting up runs so that we could win.”
The Wildcats knew they needed to win the third game Saturday if they wanted a chance at the LSC south title. They came out scoring a run in every inning and hitting three home runs. Caitlin Nabors hit a RBI single in the second and finished with a great series going 6-8 overall. Gregoire pitched great again in the final game, going five innings and giving up just one hit to pick up the win and improve her record to 19-4. The win and an Angelo State loss gave the Wildcats the title outright. They will host a four-team tournament, which includes Central Oklahoma, West Texas A&M and Midwestern State. The tournament starts Friday at 4 p.m., and the Wildcats play Midwestern State at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
“We have played everyone that is in the tournament already this year,” Wilson said. “This is the time of year when everyone steps up their game, so we need to play error-free ball and step up to continue to get timely hitting.”