The ACU softball team began season play in Ruston, Louisiana this weekend, where the team went 1-4 over their five games. The three-day tournament played host to six teams and 15 games.
The Wildcats got off to a slow start on Friday against Missouri State when they fell to a 2-0 deficit in the third inning, then gave up two more runs in the fifth to make it 4-0.
The Cats rallied back with help from rookie third basemen Holly Neese, who slammed a three-run homerun to left field which brought the Wildcats within a run at 4-3. Unfortunately the gap would prove too much for the Wildcats, who would drop their season opener 4-3.
Senior pitcher Emily Seidel pitched tremendously for the team. She had a career high nine strikeouts against the Missouri State Bears, but she was charged with four earned runs in the ACU loss.
In the second game of the tournament, the Wildcats faced off against the defending Ohio Valley Conference champs, the Southern Illinois Edwardsville Cougars. The Cougars came out with claws ready and ended the second inning with a 4-0 score. The big hit for the cougars was delivered in the fifth inning by freshman infielder Allison Smiley, who ended the game with 5 RBI on the way to the 8-0 Cougars win.
Saturday was a new day for the ‘Cats, and a new chance to turn things around with a double-header against Louisiana Tech and Louisiana Monroe.
Seidel once again started for the Wildcats against the Lady Techsters and struck out three over six innings pitched. She got the ‘Cats out of trouble in a bases-loaded situation in the first inning, then quickly found a groove and held LA Tech to only three runs throughout the remainder of the game.
ACU’s best chance to score came in the fourth when Neese and sophomore infielder Kaleigh Singleton reached second and third with no outs, but the Lady Techsters’ pitcher, Bianca Duran, ended their hope of scoring with a timely strikeout. It began a stretch of 12 consecutive retired Wildcat batters. The Wildcats dropped the game to the Techsters with a final score of 0-3.
ACU turned right around and faced the University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks. The ‘Cats started newcomer Julia Montoya for the first two innings, then switched out to Seidel for the final five.
The Warhawks turned up the heat and allowed only five baserunners over the final six frames. The Warhawks handed the ‘Cats their fourth straight loss with an 8-2 final score.
Sunday came and the Wildcats were hungry for a win against the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The Lions came out aggressive, but it wouldn’t last long. ACU’s Peyton Hedrick crushed her first round tripper of the season, starting a two-out rally that allowed for 11 Wildcat runners to reach bases on six hits, four walks, and six errors. After a 50-minute first inning, the ‘Cats led the Lions 9-0.
Montoya started and earned the win against Pine Bluff. She got off to a rocky start with accuracy issues, giving up six runs in the first two innings on walks and a three-run homerun. But she quickly recovered and threw two scoreless innings. She gave up only one more run in the game on an error in the fifth inning.
The Lions never came close to a comeback as Seidel earned the save with two scoreless final innings. The ‘Cats drove in five more runs throughout the game, including two runs by junior Demi McNulty and freshman Kaleigh Lightsey.
ACU took the match in convincing fashion with a 14-7 final score. The Wildcats are back in action Friday with a home double-header against Prairie View A&M at 2 and 4 p.m.