Pitching and defense can take a team a long way in the world of college softball. They’ve taken the Arkansas Tech Golden Suns all the way to their highest regional ranking ever. Arkansas Tech (16-11 overall, 7-1 Gulf South Conference) will seek to keep its recent good fortunes going when the Golden Suns host the Henderson State Lady Reddies (15-18, 9-3) for a four-game series at the Chartwells Women’s Sports Complex in Russellville this weekend.
The two sides will play a doubleheader at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 2, and a twin bill at noon on Sunday, April 3. Admission will be free.
Radio station KCAB 980 AM will have updates from throughout the afternoon on Saturday and play-by-play coverage on Sunday. Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcasts. Arkansas Tech has the lowest team earned run average in the GSC West Division (2.11), and the Golden Suns’ team fielding percentage of .975 is best in the entire conference. Tech committed just one error and held its opposition to nine earned runs in 31 innings of softball while sweeping a four-game series at then nationally seventh-ranked Arkansas-Monticello last weekend. That performance vaulted the Golden Suns to the No. 3 spot in the first NCAA Division II South Region poll of the 2011 season when they were released on Thursday.
The regional rankings will be used at the end of the season to help determine the eight teams from the South Region that advance to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
And while pitching and defense have been the story for the Golden Suns this season, if their offense continues to perform like it did at UAM they will have a chance to maintain their lofty regional ranking.
Arkansas Tech had a season-high 12 base hits in game one of the series. The Suns topped that with 14 hits in game four.
Tech hit just eight home runs in its first 25 games before last weekend. The Suns nearly doubled that total by hitting seven home runs in their four games against the Cotton Blossoms.
Henderson State has taken 3-of-4 games in each of its first three GSC series of the season.
The Lady Reddies have won series over Delta State, Christian Brothers and Southern Arkansas to move into third place in the GSC West behind front-running Ouachita Baptist (11-10, 6-0) and second-place Arkansas Tech.
In addition to the quantifiable goals of regional rankings and conference standings, the Golden Suns will also be looking for revenge this weekend.
Henderson State took 3-of-4 games from Arkansas Tech during the 2010 softball season, an outcome that contributed greatly to the Lady Reddies qualifying for the GSC Tournament and the Golden Suns missing out on the postseason for the first time since 2007.
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