The softball team knew it had improved since last season but, according to junior outfielder Brookelynn Moon, the team felt it needed to prove itself heading into conference play. The Lady Bisons did exactly that by winning two of four games over defending Great American Conference (GAC) champion Henderson State University (HSU) on Feb. 19 and 20 in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
“We knew we were good, but you don’t know how good you are until you play a series like that against the defending champs,” Moon said. “When we got that first win on Friday, it was big and it gave us a boost of confidence that’ll help for the rest of the season.”
The Lady Bisons left 12 runners on base in the opener, which they lost 5-1, but responded by blowing open game two of the series with eight runs in the first three innings of a 10-4 victory. Freshman infielder Alexus Lawellin keyed the quick start with a grand slam in the second inning, her first collegiate home run.
According to Moon, the emergence of freshmen playmakers, including Lawellin, has been an important part of the team’s early success both at the plate and on the mound.
“We’ve got three pitchers that are freshmen and a few hitters who keep working their way up the lineup,” Moon said. “They just came in and did their thing like they had been part of the team forever and they have definitely played a big role.”
The Lady Bisons trailed 6-0 early in the third game of the series, but racked up 13 hits to rally for an 8-7 win in extra innings. Later that day, HSU won the final game 11-1.
Senior infielder Kinsey Beck said that the series split felt like a win and that the team feels confident in its ability going forward in GAC play.
“We (had) never split or won a series with a team that was ranked higher than us on the road, so we were pretty excited,” Beck said. “Talent-wise we are better than any other team in the conference, but we have to keep it together mentally, keep working hard and have good team chemistry. Everybody is not going to be on fire every single game and we’re going to have some slumps, so when a teammate is in a slump we (need to) be able to pick her up.”
The Lady Bisons can rely on a much deeper pitching staff as their quest for a GAC championship continues, an improvement Beck said the team had to make from last season.
“Last year (the pitching) is what caused us to struggle,” Beck said. “We had a transfer come over and a couple of freshmen come in (to the pitching staff) and they’ve really stepped up and that’ll help us win games down the road.”
The Lady Bisons will next host Ouachita Baptist University in a four-game GAC series on Friday, Feb. 26 and Saturday, Feb. 27.