The East Central University softball team will head to Bentonville, Ark., to be part of the 8-State Classic hosted by Arkansas-Monticello. The Lady Tigers will play five games Feb. 14-16. ECU will open the tournament against Fort Hayes State, Feb. 14 at 11:30 a.m. and the face Drury at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 15 will see the Lady Tigers against Minnesota State Mankato at 11:30 a.m. ECU will then play two games Feb. 16 against Nebraska-Kearney at 1:30 p.m. and Oklahoma Panhandle State at 3:30 p.m.
Fans who can’t be at the game can find links to live stats, live video (if available) on ECUTigers.com. Go to the softball schedule page.
Scouting Fort Hayes State
The Tigers will open their 2014 season against ECU after going 47-12 in 2013. FHSU advanced to the NCAA Central Regional, where they went 2-2. The Tigers return 14 players and lose four from the 2013 squad.
Amanda Vaupel is the top returner for FHSU, with a .339 batting average, 30 runs scored, 62 hits and 47 RBIs. Paxton Duran is the top returning pitcher with a 3.09 ERA, 15-7 record, 156 hits, 83 runs allowed and 107 strikeouts.
The Panthers are 0-4 after the George McCorkle Tournament last weekend.
Kari Hillenburg led DU with five hits and two RBIs with a .357 batting average. Kailey Howard went 0-2 in the circle, with a 3.32 ERA, 11 hits, eight runs allowed and one strikeout.
Against the Panthers
The Tigers and DU meet at the ASU Tournament last weekend, with ECU earning a 7-2 win. Sophomore Leah Tigert garnered four RBIs on one hit and one run scored. Freshman Nicole Nordie earned the win in the circle, with a 0.00 ERA and six strikeouts.
Betsey Toalson led the Panthers with one hit, while Jessica Kjeldguard suffered the loss in the circle. She allowed seven hits, six runs and struck out two.
The Mavericks will open the 2014 season at the 8-State Classic. MSU returns 12 players from the 2013 season when they went 40-12 and advanced to the NCAA Central Regional. The Mavericks return their top pitcher from last season, but have lost eight players.
Lindsay Erickson is the top returner with a .455 batting average, 41 runs, 66 hits and 45 RBIs. Brittany Lauterbach is the top returning pitcher, with a 2.03 ERA. She went 10-2, allowed 81 hits, 35 runs and struck out 66.
The Loopers will be opening the 2014 season at this weekend’s tournament after having their opening weekend cancelled. UNK was 13-29 in 2013, with 14 returns and just six losses from the roster. The returning group includes their top eight hitters and two pitchers.
Erin Dwyer is the top returner at the plate, with a .320 batting average, seven runs scored, 24 hits and 11 RBIs. Brittnie Kreiser recorded a 3.58 ERA, 3-7 record, 112 hits allowed, 62 runs allowed and 30 strikeouts in 2013.
Scouting Oklahoma Panhandle State
The Aggies are 1-3 after double-headers against the University of the Southwest and Colorado Christian. OPSU will make a stop on their way to the 8-State Classic to face Ecclesia College for a double-header Feb. 13.
Samantha Arledge is the top producer at the plate and in the circle for the Aggies. Arledge has a .636 batting average, with seven hits and two RBIs. She is also 1-1 in the circle, with 11 hits and 10 runs allowed and 13 strikeouts.
Against the Aggies
In 2013 ECU and OPSU meet four times, with the Lady Tigers earning wins in all four meetings.
Sophomore Lauren Reeves led ECU with a .667 average, four runs scored, six hits and four RBIs. Sophomore Lacey Paulk and junior Brianna Nunley each picked up a win in the circle, with Paulk earning a 0.0 ERA and 10 strikeouts.
Lilli Ward is the top returner for the Aggies, with two hits, one run and one RBI. Samantha Arledge went 0-1 in the circle, with 20 hits and 15 runs allowed.
Nunley GAC Pitcher of Week
Junior Brianna Nunley was been named the Great American Conference Pitcher of the Week for Feb. 11.
The Moore, Okla., native earned two wins against No. 17 Angelo State at the Rambelles’ George McCorkle Classic. On Saturday, she recorded her third career shutout as she held Angelo State to just five hits. On Sunday, she entered the game with the score tied at four and threw two scoreless innings as the Lady Tigers rallied for a win.
Sophomore Autumn Suydam had a strong weekend at the George McCorkle Classic, hitting .538. Suydam led ECU with seven hits, added four runs and two RBIs. After her performance over the weekend she is now ranked in the top-10 in eight categories in the GAC statistics.
VanPelt Belting Some Out
Sophomore Jordynn VanPelt had a big day for the Lady Tigers in the opening day of the ASU Tournament. VanPelt hit two game-winning home runs. In the first game, against Texas A&M International, she hit a three-run shot over the scoreboard in center field. In the second game of the day she sent home the only two runs of the game, with a shot to left field against Angelo State.
GAC Preseason Poll
The success from a year ago and the retention of the majority of the 2013 squad has not gone unnoticed by the GAC coaches, as ECU was picked to finish second (87 points/2 first-place votes) in the 2014 GAC Preseason Poll.
Southeastern Oklahoma State was picked to finish first, with 97 points and seven first-place votes. Arkansas-Monticello was picked third (75 points/2 first-place votes), Arkansas Tech fourth (70 points), Southern Arkansas fifth (60 points), Henderson State sixth (59), Ouachita Baptist and Southern Nazarene seventh (36 points), Northwestern Oklahoma State ninth (33), Southwestern Oklahoma State 10th (27) and Harding 11th (25).
The Lady Tigers will remain on the road, but will open the GAC portion of the schedule, Feb. 21-22 when they travel to face Henderson State.