SE Heads North for NCAA Softball Regional

DURANT, Okla. – No. 2 Southeastern will open play at the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament on Friday, May 10 when it squares off against Winona State at 1:30 p.m. in Mankato, Minn.

The Savage Storm are coming off regular season and postseason Great American Conference titles that concluded a 44-7 season, and in doing so earned the No. 2 seed in the Central region.

SE is making its seventh NCAA postseason trip and its first since 2009.

The Storm enter the regional as the No. 2 seed and is facing seventh-seeded WSU, and will be aiming for an opening round win which would earn them an 11 a.m. meeting with the winner of No. 3 seed Minnesota State-Mankato and No. 6 seed Augustana. A win in that contest would put SE in the championship game.

Southeastern has a limited history against the teams in the field, posting a 3-0 record that includes a win over each team.

The Storm posted a 7-1 win over WSU in 2003 in a game played at the NSIC Crossover tournament that was held, ironically, in Mankato, Minnesota.

The other wins came in the same weekend on consecutive days at the NFCA Division II Leadoff Classic in Tucson, Ariz., where SE opened the event with a 1-0 win over Augustana on Feb. 15 and picked up a 6-4 win over Minnesota State on Feb. 16.

Southeastern would go on to win that tournament which propelled the Storm into the national spotlight after defeating three-straight top 10 teams and topping a total of six school who have each been ranked or received votes in the national poll.

All six schools SE defeated in that tournament have also earned NCAA regional bids.

The Storm pitching staff has been a big reason the team has been so competitive against a tough schedule this season.

The duo of Jacee Bennett and Mindy McElroy have combined for 42 of SE's 44 wins, with Bennett posting a 21-4 record while McElroy is sitting at 21-2. The pair posted 20-plus wins apiece, marking the first time that has happened for SE since 2008.

Bennett and McElroy each earned first team All-GAC honors, with Bennett also picking up Pitcher of the Year while McElroy was named Newcomer of the Year.

McElroy led the GAC in ERA with a 1.57 while Bennett posted a 2.42 mark. Bennett, however, was at the top of the league in strikeouts with 182, while McElroy struck out 94.

Southeastern also posted solid offensive numbers and currently has a .321 team batting average.

That number is bolstered by a pair of .400-plus hitters and six other hitting over .300.

Courtney Riddle leads the way with a .444 average that includes nine doubles, a triple and two home runs. She has also pitched in 30 RBI on the year in 90 at bats.

Courtney Moore boosted her average down the stretch to an even .400 with a team high 45 RBI with 58 hits that include 13 doubles and four home runs.

McElroy, Jessica Simmons, Lacie Cook, Laramie Beal and Lauren Renneker are each hitting better than .300.

Beal leads the team with seven home runs, while Simmons leads the way on the base paths with team bests of 35 stolen bases and 45 runs scored.

Winona State enters the weekend with a 34-12 record and finished third in the NSIC regular season standings and went 1-2 at the NSIC tournament.

The Warriors are led offensively by Reed Karsten who is hitting .405 on the season, while Ashley Walker has posted 12 home runs and 56 RBI.

They are led in the circle by Walker as well who is 17-2 on the year with a 2.56 ERA and 82 strikeouts.

Minnesota State is 38-10 on the season overall and finished tied for the regular season championship in the NSIC before going on to win the NSIC tournament.

The Mavericks are led by Lindsay Erickson on offense who is hitting .448 with 12 doubles, nine home runs and 44 RBI.

In the circle they are paced by Courtney McKelvogue who is 23-7 on the year with a 1.34 ERA and 145 strikeouts.

Augustana posted a 32-15 record on the year and finished tied for sixth in the NSIC regular season standings and went 2-2 in the postseason tournament.

Carly Peterson paces the Vikings with a .371 average, but Jenelle Trautmann provides the bulk of the offense with 18 home runs and 48 RBI on the year.

Trautmann also leads the AU pitching staff with a 25-10 record on the year and a 2.43 ERA along with 208 strikeouts.

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