Needing to win two of three games over Tarleton State and receive outside help to make the LSC Post-Season Tournament, the ACU softball team did their part but failed to get the necessary aid to prolong their 2011 campaign, thus ending their season Saturday at Wells Field.
The Wildcats won the opener over the Tarleton State TexAnns 11-8 and split the pair of games Saturday, winning 15-6 and losing 6-5.
Sitting in a tie with Texas Woman’s prior to the Tarleton series, ACU needed to win at least two of three and hope TWU would stumble against Angelo State. Texas Woman’s won two of three over the Rambelles, earning the fourth and final spot in the LSC Tournament. TWU beat ACU in the head-to-head matchup, giving them a nod in the tiebreaker.
The Wildcats end their season with a 28-27, 11-10 record in a tie for fourth place in the Lone Star Conference South Division standings.
“We thought going into the series that we needed to win two of three to get into the tournament because we didn’t think Angelo would lose two to Texas Woman’s,” Head Coach Bobby Reeves said. “I take my hat off to Texas Woman’s. They did a great job against Angelo State and earned their tournament berth.”
In the opening game Friday night, the Wildcat offense started things off on the right foot, jumping out to a 4-1 lead after two innings.
Catcher Erin Gilliland hit a two-RBI double to start off the inning before she would score on an Ashley Calles double later in the inning.
“It’s always a good feeling to get the bats going early in the game. Doing so gives us confidence and allows the pitcher to breathe a slight sigh of relief,” Gilliland said.
A Megan Brigance home run in the fifth added a security run for the ‘Cats as a TexAnns rally would put them within one run in the top of the sixth.
Senior Brittany Rexroat went 5.2 innings and won her 13th game in the process. Freshman reliever Peyton Mosley came in the game in the sixth and was clutch for the Wildcats.
In the first of two games Saturday, Tarleton St. jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and 6-0 after the third chiefly due to errors.
“We dug ourselves into a deep hole at the beginning of that one,” Reeves said. “Give credit to our girls though; they never put their heads down and kept fighting.”
Starter Shelby Hall exited the game quickly after allowing six runs on eight hits.
Once again, Mosley came in on relief, throwing five innings and only allowing one hit in her outing.
“It’s huge when you have someone like Peyton who comes in under any circumstance and clean up the mess. She played like a veteran and really stepped up when we needed her,” Reeves said.
Freshman Lyndi Smith had three hits in the first game en route to a comeback that fell short, as Tarleton trumped ACU 6-5.
With the series knotted at 1-1 heading into the rubber match, ACU was in a must-win situation.
“We knew we needed to win that one to keep our playoff hopes alive,” Gilliland said. “We weren’t going to let anything get in the way of that. Our seniors deserved our best effort.”
Rexroat started the game and picked up in stride where she left off in Friday’s contest.
The senior cruised, throwing through four innings giving up only two runs on four hits.
ACU jumped out to a 9-1 lead and never looked back. A Megan Brigance walk-off and a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth ended the game and sealed the 15-6 win for the Wildcats.
Abilene Christian had done their part, winning the series. Now they needed some help.
And the waiting game started.
“We had to sit around here for an hour for the Texas Woman’s-Angelo State game to end,” Reeves said. “I had the game webcast playing on my computer, and when I found out that Angelo lost again, meaning we were out, it was hard. It was no fun telling the team that. It was an emotional time for us, especially the seniors.”
The four seniors – Melissa Mendoza, Brittany Rexroat, Ashley Calles and Candice Miller – all played a valuable role on the team, according to Reeves, and will be remembered forever.
Mendoza ended her senior season with 81 hits, five shy of the single season hit record. She finished hitting over .500 in conference play.
Rexroat closed out her ACU career winning five of her final seven starts, boasting a 14-9 record and 3.89 earned run average.