By Austin Gwin, Sports Writer
The Wildcats’ softball team will look to keep the magic this weekend as it plays host to the 2009 Lone Star Conference Softball Championship.
With the help of an Angelo State loss and a sweep of Eastern New Mexico last weekend, ACU finished on top of the LSC South Division. Being first has its perks; one of which is hosting one of the two brackets in the LSC tournament. This is the second time the Wildcats have won the LSC South in ACU history.
Three teams will be joining ACU in Abilene for the first weekend of the tournament. The No. 3 seed in the south, West Texas A&M, will play the No. 2 seed from the north, Central Oklahoma. ACU will play the No. 4 seed from the North, Midwestern State.
“We need to keep playing like we have been playing,” head softball coach Chantiel Wilson said. “Every game is the most important game of the season.”
This season ACU has split four games with the Midwestern State Mustangs. ACU won the first matchup against the Mustangs 4-1 in the fifth game of season. The Wildcats then dropped a doubleheader against MSU at the beginning of March. Since those losses, ACU has gone 23-2 with both losses coming against Angelo State. One of those 23 wins came against Midwestern State to even up the season’s series at 2-2. The Wildcats dominated them 7-1 in that game, which was never really in doubt.
ACU has fared well against the other two teams in the Abilene bracket. ACU’s most likely second-round opponent, if the seeds hold true, will be Central Oklahoma. Against the Bronchos, ACU won its only matchup by a score of 4-2. With West Texas A&M being a division rival, the Wildcats met them three times this season and took two of three.
Look for the Wildcat pitching to continue its dominance this weekend. Starters Jacque Gregoire and Kim Partin probably will be on the mound most of the weekend. Wilson said Gregoire will most likely get the start Friday. Partin is ranked third in the LSC in ERA this year, while Gregoire leads the Wildcats in wins with 19.
“We will look to keep them off balance by throwing some off-speed stuff low and away,” Wilson said. “We don’t have to get a strikeout every time; we can let the defense do the work.”
ACU ranks fourth in the LSC in hitting and is batting .324 as a team. Throughout the season, the Wildcats’ hitting has gotten consistently better. Over the last five games in the regular season, ACU scored at least eight runs in every game.
“We have been more aggressive lately with some hit- and-runs and we will need to keep that up this weekend,” Wilson said. “If we stay relaxed at the plate and have fun, we will continue hitting well.”
The tournament begins Friday and will go until Sunday with the winner advancing to the championship series May 1-3. Friday’s game will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Poly Wells Field.