SOSU Softball Ready to Open Regional Play

DURANT, Okla. - Southeastern will open its eighth NCAA Division II tournament appearance on May 9 at 11 a.m. when it faces Minnesota State-Mankato in the Central Region Tournament in Mankato, Minn.

SE comes into the tournament with a 38-17 record on the year after advancing to its third-straight Great American Conference championship game before falling to Southern Arkansas.

Also advancing to the Central regional in sub-region two are No. 3 seed Emporia State and No. 6 seed Central Oklahoma who will meet at 2:30 p.m. May 9.

Unlike last season, the Storm are fairly familiar with this season's regional opponents, posting a combined 47-26 record against the teams.

That mark is bolstered by SE's 37-23 record against Central Oklahoma which stems from their time as Lone Star Conference rivals, however the teams have not faced one another since the 2011 season.

The Storm hold a 7-2 mark all-time against Emporia State, with the teams splitting a double-header just last season, while Southeastern is 1-1 against MSU-M, with both meetings coming last season, with SE winning the first matchup 6-4 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic before the Mavericks evened the record at least year's regional to end the Storm season.

The trip to the regional is the second in-a-row for Southeastern, with the program making back-to-back appearances previously in 2008 and 2009 as well as 1999 and 2000.

The Storm will be leaning on Great American Conference Pitcher of the Year Mindy McElroy in the postseason. She has tallied a 24-9 record on the year with a 2.47 ERA and 51 strikeouts.

SE will also have Jacee Bennett and Shayna Milam who have combined for a 14-8 record on the year, while Bennett leads the club in strikeouts with 82 and saves with seven.

Offensively, the team is paced by GAC Player of the Year Jessica Simmons who has racked up a .412 average in the leadoff spot with 54 runs scored, 21 RBI and a conference-best 33 stolen bases.

SE has three players boasting averages at .350 or higher, with first team All-GAC selection Haley Strawn hitting .350 with six home runs and 36 RBI, while All-GAC second team selections Laramie Beal and Sydney Kramer check in at .389 and .383, respectively.

Kramer paces the team in RBI with 49 on the year with 14 doubles and two triples, while Beal leads the team in home runs with nine and has driven in 42.

A win for Southeastern in its opener would earn them a noon matchup on May 10 with the winner of the UCO/ESU matchup for a berth in the sub-region championship game as the undefeated participant.

The event is a double-elimination tournament and should the Storm fall in the opener it would mean a 2:30 p.m. matchup on May 10 with the loser of the ESU/UCO contest, with that winner moving on to face the loser of game three at 2:30 p.m.

The sub-regional championship game is slated for noon on May 11 with an "if necessary" game to follow at 2:30 p.m.

Winona State will be the Central Region top seed and host a separate sub-regional with eighth-seeded Southern Arkansas, fourth-seeded Augustana and fifth-seeded Missouri Western State.

The winners of each Central Region sub-regional will meet May 16-17 with a trip to the Finals on the line which will be played May 22-26 in Salem, Va.