Wonder Boys Remain Atop GAC Standings

It’s eight consecutive wins and counting for Arkansas Tech University’s baseball team.

The Wonder Boys (19-8 overall, 13-2 Great American Conference) swept a three-game series from Southern Nazarene University at Feland Field in Bethany, Okla., on Friday and Saturday.

As a result, Arkansas Tech maintained its one-game lead over Southern Arkansas University (17-7, 12-3) for first place in the GAC standings.

The Wonder Boys blitzed the Crimson Storm by scores of 14-1, 15-7 and 19-6. ATU collected 56 base hits during the series, which came one week after Tech rapped out 50 base hits during a three-game sweep of East Central University.

It is the continuation of an offensive onslaught that has lasted for the duration of Arkansas Tech’s current winning streak.

Arkansas Tech has a team batting average of .432 and is averaging 12.8 runs per contest over its last eight games.

Tech’s Riley Hickerson (.427 batting average, 21 runs batted in) and Tristan Thomas (.400 batting average, five home runs, 39 RBIs) are at the top of the GAC list of leaders for individual batting average.

ATU starting pitcher Isaac Hale (6-0, 2.45 earned run average) ranks top five in the league in ERA.

The Wonder Boys will host Oklahoma Baptist University (14-10, 10-5) for a three-game GAC series at Carl Baswell Field in Russellville on Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23.

First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday. Admission will be free.

Live coverage will be provided by radio station KARV 101.3 FM/610 AM and www.arkansastechsports.com.

Suns, Storm Split GAC Softball Series

Friday belonged to Arkansas Tech University and Saturday favored Southern Nazarene University during a four-game Great American Conference softball series at the Chartwells Women’s Sports Complex in Russellville.

The Golden Suns (14-12 overall, 8-6 GAC) swept Friday’s doubleheader 8-0 and 5-2.

Megan Goodnight went 3-for-3 with a home run and two runs batted in while also pitching five shutout innings in the opener. Tymber Riley’s pinch-hit, three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning made the difference in the nightcap.

The Crimson Storm (15-12, 10-6) returned the favor by winning 10-5 and 3-2 on Saturday.

In game one of the twin bill, Southern Nazarene scored six times in the top of the sixth inning to break loose from a 4-4 tie. Jacey James’ RBI single in the top of the fifth inning set what proved to be the Crimson Storm’s winning margin in the series finale.

Arkansas Tech will visit Oklahoma Baptist University (11-17, 5-11) for a four-game GAC series in Shawnee, Okla., on Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday.

SWOSU Tops Suns for GAC Tournament Title

Nationally eighth-ranked Southwestern Oklahoma State University was the best team in Great American Conference women’s basketball all season long, and the Lady Bulldogs were that again in the 2019 GAC Tournament championship game on Sunday.

SWOSU (30-1) defeated Arkansas Tech University 87-66 at Bruin Fieldhouse in Bartlesville, Okla., to extend its winning streak to 30 games and claim the automatic bid from the GAC in the 2019 NCAA Division II Tournament.

The loss ended the Golden Suns’ season with an overall record of 15-16.

No. 7 seed Arkansas Tech defeated East Central University 76-74 in double overtime on Thursday and Southern Nazarene University 87-84 in overtime on Saturday to become the lowest-seeded women’s team to ever reach the GAC Tournament final.

“We had to fight hard to get here,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head coach, following Sunday’s loss to SWOSU. “We missed a lot of shots in the second half. Their depth and pressure wore us down, and we couldn’t hit enough shots.”

The score was tied 39-39 with less than a minute to go in the first half. Back-to-back Golden Suns’ turnovers led to a Tyra Aska layup and a Taber Beer 3-pointer. The Lady Bulldogs went to the intermission with a 44-39 advantage.

Tech’s Hannah Villines made a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half to pull the Suns within 44-42. It was the only field goal that ATU made during the first eight minutes of the third quarter, and SWOSU took advantage by building a 57-44 lead.

The Golden Suns’ final push was a 7-0 run over a span of 1:02 late in the third quarter.

Lyrik Williams made two free throws, Ke’Vonshaye Stackhouse had a steal and layup and Jayana Sanders knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to 57-51 with 54 seconds left in the period.

A hustle play by Beer turned the tide in SWOSU’s favor for good.

She tracked down a loose ball and was fouled with 2.2 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The back-up point guard made both free throws to begin a decisive 8-0 spurt by the Lady Bulldogs. They led 65-51 with 7:52 to go in the fourth quarter and maintained at least a 12-point margin the rest of the way.

Aska paced SWOSU with 25 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Bethany Franks and Hayden Priddy had 12 points apiece. Taylor Hedrick and Maddie Sperle both added 11 points.

The Lady Bulldogs finished with a 19-8 advantage in points off turnovers.

Villines and Jacie Higgins notched 14 points apiece for the Golden Suns. Sanders added 13 points.

Franks was voted GAC Tournament most valuable player. She was joined on the All-GAC Tournament team by fellow SWOSU players Aska, Priddy and Hailey Tucker.

Williams, the Suns’ only senior, and Sanders were Arkansas Tech’s representatives on the All-GAC Tournament team.

It was the third GAC Tournament title for SWOSU’s women, who also claimed the crown in 2012 and 2014.

The Golden Suns made their fifth consecutive appearance in the GAC Tournament championship game.

It was a remarkable turnaround for an ATU team that lost eight of its first 11 regular season conference games before recovering with a stretch of nine wins over 13 games through the GAC Tournament semifinals.

“We had a very young team that had some growing pains, but some highlights too,” said Wilbers. “We gained a lot of experience from playing in a tournament final, and I like the way we bounced back all year long. This team kept playing and never gave up.”

Wonder Boys Surge to Top of GAC Standings

Arkansas Tech University moved into sole possession of first place in the Great American Conference baseball standings by sweeping a three-game series from East Central University at Ada, Okla., on Friday and Saturday.

The Wonder Boys (16-8 overall, 10-2 GAC) defeated the Tigers 14-2 and 6-2 during Friday’s doubleheader and 18-5 on Saturday.

Arkansas Tech collected 50 base hits during the series, including a season-high 23 hits in the finale.

Britt Stroth (6-for-11, six runs batted in, five runs scored), Harry Gard (6-for-13, four RBIs, six runs), Riley Hickerson (6-for-13, four RBIs, five runs), Tristan Thomas (6-for-12, five RBIs, six runs), Zack Kesterson (6-for-11, eight RBIs, four runs), Michael Post (6-for-9, RBI, five runs) and Korey Thompson (9-for-11, three RBIs, three runs) were among those who led the Wonder Boys’ offensive onslaught in Ada.

ATU starting pitchers Isaac Hale (5-0), Hayes Cox (2-3) and Layton Robinson (3-1) took advantage of the run support to earn wins on the mound.

The Wonder Boys will visit Bethany, Okla., for a three-game GAC series against Southern Nazarene University on Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 16.

First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday. Live coverage will be available on www.arkansastechsports.com.

Another OT Win, Another Title Game for ATU

Arkansas Tech University will play in the Great American Conference Tournament championship game in women’s basketball for a fifth consecutive year.

The seventh-seeded Golden Suns (15-15) defeated Southern Nazarene University 87-84 in overtime at Bruin Fieldhouse in Bartlesville, Okla., on Saturday afternoon.

As a result of its semifinal win, Arkansas Tech will face nationally eighth-ranked Southwestern Oklahoma State University (29-1) in the championship game at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will provide live coverage.

“This was a heck of a college game,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head coach. “I’m real proud of our team. Jayana (Sanders) really came through big time when we really needed it.”

Southern Nazarene (17-13) scored the first seven points of the game and never relinquished the lead until Sanders made a 26-foot 3-pointer from the right wing with 5.4 seconds left in regulation. The game went to overtime with the score tied 77-77.

Sanders scored eight of the Golden Suns’ 10 points in the overtime and made a steal with 12 seconds remaining to help seal the win.

Tech’s Leighton Taylor made 1-of-2 free throws with 4.4 seconds remaining to give the Suns an 87-84 advantage and Southern Nazarene’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was short.

There have been four overtime games in GAC Tournament women’s basketball history. All four have been won by the Golden Suns, including two this week. Tech defeated East Central University 76-74 in double overtime during the opening round on Thursday.

Sanders finished with 21 points. Ke’Vonshaye Stackhouse scored all 18 of her points for the Golden Suns in the second half. Lyrik Williams, Tech’s lone senior, added 16 points and 11 rebounds for her 11th career double-double.

Five ATU players fouled out of the game.

Adrienne Berry scored a team-high 19 points for the Crimson Storm.