The East Central University softball team will wrap up their Spring Break with four Great American Conference games against Southern Arkansas, March 22-23 at Lady Tiger Field. The teams will play double-headers each day, with Friday’s (March 22) slated to start at 2 p.m. and Saturday’s (March 23) set to begin at noon.
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 Southern Arkansas
The Lady Muleriders are 16-14 overall and 8-6 in the GAC after splitting a series with Henderson State last weekend. This weekend’s games will mark just the sixth through ninth games at an opposing school this season for SAU, in which they are 1-4.
The Lady Muleriders have a .271 batting average and are allowing a .267 mark for the season. They are close in all the statistical categories, including ERA 3.32 to 3.59 and hits 204 to 210.
Sarah Higginbotham is the team’s top producer at the plate with a .446 average. She has 41 hits, including five home runs and 19 RBIs on the year. Kelci Garza is next on the team with a .382 average on 29 hits and 14 RBIs.
SAU has three pitchers that have seen action, but one that is the clear go-to thrower. Hanna Gill is 12-6 in the circle, with a 2.63 ERA and .242 opponent batting average. She has thrown 119.2 innings and recorded 112 strikeouts. Taylor Clifton has seen the most time behind Gill, with 60.2 innings of work. She has a 4-8 record, 4.15 ERA, 38 strikeouts and a .288 opponent average.
Against the Lady Muleriders
Last year the Lady Tigers went 1-4 against SAU, including a loss in the GAC Championship Tournament.
Sophomore Chelsea Patterson leads the returners against the Lady Muleriders with a .357 average on five hits and an RIB. Senior Ali Manship adds a .250 average, with four hits and an RBI. Manship also went 1-2 in the circle, allowing 21 hits, 11 runs and striking out four batters.
Mackenzie Spanko is the top returner for SAU, with a .583 average on seven hits and 1 RBI. Hanna Gill went 3-0 in the circle with 19.0 innings of work and 11 strikeouts. She allowed 17 hits and seven runs.
Striking Out the Competition
In the six games that ECU played from March 12-16 the pitching staff combined for a 6-0 mark and 39 strikeouts. Sophomore Brianna Nunley started the strong week off with 10 K’s against Oklahoma Baptist (March 12) and freshman Lacey Paulk continued the run with 11 against Ouachita Baptist (March 15).
Simmons Earns Player of the Week Honors
ECU senior Shelby Simmons was named the GAC Player of the Week for March 19 after helping the Lady Tigers to a 6-0 record over the week.
The North Richland Hills, Texas, native hit .591 for the week, with 13 hits in 22 at-bats. Simmons scored five runs, added four RBIs, had a double and triple and a slugging percentage of .727.
Leah Leaping Forward
Freshman Leah Tigert had a standout weekend for the Tigers at Southwestern and earned GAC Player of the Week honors for her efforts. The Hennepin, Okla., native hit .636, with seven hits and six RBIs. Tigert came up big with a double and a game-winning double in the seventh inning of the fourth game with the Lady Bulldogs.
So far this season the Lady Tigers have played 28 games, winning 22. Of those 22 wins ECU has earned the victories at the end of the fifth inning in 10 games, with the run rule.
Home Run Fever
The Lady Tigers had a case of home run fever in the Tarleton State Tournament, with 12 total home runs, including seven in the second day.
Senior Ali Manship led the team with five home runs, junior Gina Mengwasser added three, and senior Shelby Simmons, sophomores Lauren Bancroft and Lacey Williams and freshman Jordynn VanPelt all garnered one.
Mengwasser Picking Up Recognition
Junior transfer Gina Mengwasser made an immediate impact for the Lady Tigers in her first games. The Edmond, Okla., native tallied four hits, including a home run and a grand slam. She tallied 10 RBIs and a .786 slugging percentage. For her efforts she was named to the 14-member St. Mary’s All-Tournament Team as the catcher.
Four members of the ECU softball team earned a spot on the 12-member Tarleton State All-Tournament team. Junior Gina Mengwasser, senior Shelby Simmons and sophomore Lacey Williams were named to the team as the catcher, short stop and outfielder, while senior Ali Manship was named the co-MVP of the tournament.
Mengwasser has a .385 batting average, with three home runs, four RBIs and a 1.077 slugging percentage. Simmons finished the four games with a .500 batting average, a double, home run and four RBIs. Williams tallied a .455 average, with a double and home run. She also added an RBI, .818 slugging percentage and 2-2 in stolen bases. Manship earned a win in the circle and recorded a batting average of .600. She tallied five home runs and nine RBIs, with a 1.600 slugging percentage.
Manship GAC Pitcher of the Week
Senior Ali Manship also had a strong showing in the opening weekend of action and was named the first Great American Conference Pitcher of the Week for the 2013 season. The honor is the first for the Harrah, Okla., native.
Manship picked up the win in all three of the Lady Tigers victories at the St. Mary’s Invitational. She threw a shutout and two complete games. She struck out seven and registered an ERA of 1.47 for the weekend. As a batter, she hit .429 (6-for-14) with four runs scored.
GAC Preseason Poll
The Lady Tigers were picked to finish third in the 2013 Great American Conference Preseason Poll, as voted on by the league’s head coaches. ECU received 35 points.
Arkansas-Monticello earned the top spot, with 43 points and four first-place votes. Southeastern was second, with 39 points and two first-place votes, with Southwestern and Southern Arkansas each earning the final first-place votes and finishing fourth (34 points) and fifth (30 points), respectively. Henderson State (17 points), Arkansas Tech (13) and Ouachita Baptist (13 points) round out the poll.
After their eight-game home stand the Lady Tigers will hit the road for 10 games from March 29-April 6. The first stop on the trip will be a four-game GAC series at Southern Nazarene (March 29-30).