The Wildcat softball ball team dropped two out of three games at home over the weekend to conference rival, Lamar. Pitching continued to be an issue for ACU as the team allowed 23 total runs to the Cardinals, who rank second in the conference in hitting (.302), behind the first place Wildcats (.309).
The Wildcats now sit at 17-22 with a 6-5 Southland Conference record, while Lamar moves to 19-16 and 12-5 in conference play, placing second in the Southland.
ACU dropped the series opener, 6-11, after a big six-run fourth inning left the Cardinals in front, 8-4. Freshman Hannah Null and junior Emily Seidel were rocked for a combined eight earned runs on 11 hits in 5.1 innings of work. Senior catcher Lyndi Smith drove in three runs with a two-run home run and a sac fly.
“They are a very aggressive team on the bases and we had to learn to adjust to that,” Null said. “They were smart batters because they made us throw strikes but they were not overpowering.”
Game two saw a shift in play and late inning fireworks as the Wildcats won on a walk-off double by sophomore pinch-hitter Cara Hoover. The Wildcats were able to load the basses for Hoover with one out in the bottom of the seventh and with ACU trailing 1-2. After fouling two pitches off, Hoover was able to record her only hit of the game, driving in sophomores Anna Jones and pinch-runner Jacquelyn Perez, giving the home squad a 3-2 win.
Null was able to find here dominance that has carried the Wildcats all year. Null went the distance for a complete game, allowing two runs on two hits and four strikeouts. With the win, Null moves to 11-7 on the year, good enough for second in conference wins.
The Cardinal offense returned in the rubber match game, as Lamar took the game and the series in a 10-7 defeat of ACU. The weather caused some difficulty as wind gusts were recorded at 30-miles-per-hour, and the game had to be delayed because of lightning and hail. The game was resumed in the fifth inning, tied 4-4. Lamar broke the game open with a four-run inning to move ahead 8-4. The Wildcats added three in the bottom of the seventh, but still fell short.
“Lamar kept us on our toes and I think the number one thing we can learn from this series is that routine plays are the most important plays to make and we need to be more aware of what is going on,” Smith said. “It is so important for us to make the routine outs when they give them to us. That’s how you win a game; taking advantage of the outs given to you.”
Senior third baseman Courtney Flanary was one of two Wildcats to homer in the game, driving in three on her bomb in the third inning. Smith had the other home run in the seventh, driving in two, as she continues to be one of the top hitters in the conference.
The Wildcats have three series left on the season. With all but one game against conference rivals, ACU will need to utilize home games to their full extent. ACU will prepare for Sam Houston State (22-18, 12-5) in Huntsville before returning home for their final six games at home.
“We have already played SHSU three times so we know what to expect,” Null said. “They have strong, but smart hitters and are very powerful behind the plate. We have handled their pitching very well in the past and I think we will score a lot of runs again this weekend.”