By Ryan Cantrell, Sports Writer
After winning the south side of the Lone Star Conference tournament, the Wildcats will host Angelo State this weekend for the LSC Championship series. The championship will be a best of three series starting Friday at 5 p.m.
“Angelo State is a good hitting team,” head coach Chantiel Wilson said. “They have two good pitchers, and we just hope to play two good games or three if it goes that far.”
The Wildcats edged out the Rambelles for the LSC South Division regular season title. The Wildcats held on to a one-game edge over Angelo State. ACU finished 15-3 in conference, while the Rambelles were 14-4. Despite winning the South Division, the Rambelles took the series between the two teams, winning two of three in San Angelo earlier this season.
The Wildcats won the first meeting between these two teams 7-3 before dropping the next one 11-5. The final game between the two teams was a great one that needed extra innings before it was decided. The Wildcats lost a heartbreaker 7-6 in extra innings.
The Wildcats have been on an incredible streak down the final stretch of the season. They are 26-2 over their last 28 games, with the only two losses being at San Angelo. The Wildcats are hoping that being at home will give them the advantage they need to swing this series in their favor.
“I think it is a big deal when you are able to play at home in front of your friends and family as opposed to on the road,” Wilson said. “We have played well on the road, but it is nice not having to travel or stay in a hotel. We are excited to be able to host this weekend.”
Great pitching and timely hitting have carried the Wildcats this season. Jacque Gregoire leads the team with a 21-4 record for the season on the mound. She also has an impressive 2.60 ERA and 122 strikeouts for the season. Gregoire is complemented by Kim Partin, who has been solid almost every time she has pitched; she has an 11-2 record with a 1.89 ERA. The Wildcats’ offense has also been a strength as their balance throughout the lineup has carried them.
“I think our hitting has been a big part of our success because it has not just been one person,” Wilson said. “Sometimes slumps happen, and if one person has been struggling this season, it has been OK because there has always been someone else there to pick them up. We expect that to continue this weekend.”
The Rambelles are led offensively by Sandy James, who leads the team in almost every offensive category (hits, runs, batting average and RBIs). Defensively, the Rambelles have two strong pitchers in Chelsea Nelson and April Haywood. Nelson is 24-4 on the season with a 2.48 ERA, while Haywood is 16-4 with a 2.96 ERA.
The series is also important because it could affect the seeding of the regional rankings, which determines playoff seeding. Angelo State is No. 1 in the region and ACU stands in No. 3. The top six teams make the playoffs, and the top two seeds receive a first-round bye.