NCAA DII Softball at Memorial Park and Tiger Athletic ComplexApr 27, 2016 in Press Releases, Tourism
GREAT AMERICAN CONFERENCE
Contact: Keith Kelley, GAC Communications Assistant Release Date: Wednesday, April 27, 2016
2016 GAC SOFTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS SET TO BEGIN THURSDAY
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas Tech, Southern Arkansas, Southeastern Oklahoma State, Harding, Arkansas-‐ Monticello, Henderson State, East Central, and Southern Nazarene will compete for the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament at the 2016 GAC Softball Championship. The Championship begins at 10 a.m. on Thursday from the Tiger Athletic Complex in Bentonville, Arkansas.
After finishing in the top three in the GAC regular-‐season standings each of the last five years, No. 3 seed Southeastern Oklahoma State will open things up with a first-‐round matchup versus No. 6 seed Henderson State. The Savage Storm (29-‐21, 25-‐15) defeated the Reddies (32-‐24, 23-‐21 GAC) four times during the regular season. Junior two-‐way player Ashlyn White leads Henderson State as she boasts the team’s top average, .386, and has a
2.26 ERA in 22 pitching appearances. Jessica Simmons leads Southeastern Oklahoma State as she tops the
conference, and ranks 10th in the nation, with a .471 batting average while her 46 stolen bases ranks fourth.
At noon, No. 2 seed Southern Arkansas looks to defeat No. 7 seed East Central for the fifth time in less than a week. The Lady Muleriders (41-‐8, 33-‐8) swept the Tigers (24-‐29, 21-‐21) over the weekend in Magnolia. Southern Arkansas’ Kimmy Beasley owns a third-‐best conference 1.06 ERA. Beasley and teammate Kaylee Garner accounted for all 41 of SAU’s wins as Garner won a league-‐high 21 and Beasley added 20. No other GAC pitcher reached 20 wins. Autumn Suydam leads the Tigers with a team-‐high .387 average and has stolen 23 bases without once being thrown out.
In game three, set for 2 p.m., Top-‐seeded Arkansas Tech begins its search for its first GAC Softball Championship crown. Southern Nazarene draws the regular-‐season champions in the first round. The Golden Suns (44-‐7, 34-‐6) defeated the Crimson Storm (27-‐29, 18-‐26) all four times during the regular season. Dual-‐threat player, Jalissa Gum leads Arkansas Tech. Gum holds a batting average of .399, which ranks second on the team, and has an 18-‐1 record with a 0.67 ERA inside the circle. Gum has received weekly conference honors five times as well as an NFCA National Player of the Week award. Senior right-‐hander Kayla Wyatt leads Southern Nazarene. Wyatt, one of 13 active NCAA Division II pitchers with 700 strikeouts, has 288 strikeouts, sixth in Division II, to go along with 18 wins.
The final first-‐round matchup, scheduled for 4 p.m., of the day features No. 4 Harding battling No. 5 Arkansas-‐ Monticello. The Blossoms (30-‐26, 24-‐20) took three out of four games in the regular season versus the Bisons (34-‐22, 26-‐18). Freshman Alexus Lawellin and junior Hannah Johnson lead Harding. Lawellin leads Harding with a .411 batting average, while Johnson has 18 wins in the circle. Holly Wilmarth and Kendra Coleman lead the Blossoms. Wilmarth’s 16 home runs rank second in the GAC, while Coleman leads UAM with 15 wins and 158 strikeouts.
Thursday’s action continues with the losers of the Southeastern Oklahoma State-‐Henderson State contest and the Southern Arkansas-‐East Central matchup facing off in an elimination game at 6 p.m. from Memorial Park while the winners play at 6 p.m. at the Tiger Athletic Complex. The losing sides from the Arkansas Tech-‐Southern Nazarene and Harding-‐Arkansas-‐Monticello games will play at 8 p.m. from Memorial Park with the winners playing in the nightcap, also set for 8 p.m., from the Tiger Athletic Complex.
The GAC Sports Network will broadcast all Championship games from the Tiger Athletic Complex. Michael Westbrook, Joey McWilliams and Paul Smith will have the call from Bentonville.
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