Sun Belt Conference Softball: Weekend Preview
Four big softball series’ highlight the final full weekend of league play in Sun Belt Conference action this weekend.
Currently, 16th-ranked Louisiana is 16-1, while 21st-ranked South Alabama is 14-5, WKU and Georgia St. are both 10-8, ULM is 6-11, Texas St. is 6-12, Troy is 4-12, and UT-Arlington is 4-13.
Louisiana has clinched the Sun Belt Conference regular season title, their 11th in the 13 years of the league.
Let’s take a look at the respective conference series’ schedule for this weekend, the final one of the regular season:
ULM (22-22, 6-11) at #13 LOUISIANA (38-7-1, 16-1)
This one may not look appealing to some, but Louisiana is trying to earn a national seed in the NCAA postseason tournament, while a win over the Cajuns would make ULM's year.
Louisiana ranks first in the league in hitting (.305), as well as first in runs scored (299), and home runs (70), while ranking second in pitching (2.87).
UL, who has won 30 of their last 32, is led by sophomore catcher Lexie Elkins, who leads the conference in both homers (16) and runs batted in (59), and freshman outfielder Haley Hayden, who is second in both categories (13 homers and 49 RBI’s), along with senior second baseman Natalie Fernandez, who leads the conference in hitting (.456), on-base percentage (.555), and runs scored (55).
Christina Hamilton is currently 21-1 in the circle for the Cajuns, and sports a 1.26 ERA., which ranks third in the league.
ULM currently ranks second in the conference in hitting (.289), while ranking fourth in home runs (37), and first in stolen bases (126), but ranks last in pitching, with a 4.43 team ERA.
Louisiana and ULM will play a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon, beginning at 2 o’clock (cdt), and a single game on Sunday at 1 pm.
TROY (21-28-2, 4-12) at #21 SOUTH ALABAMA (37-10, 14-5)
South Alabama has locked up the #2 seed in the upcoming postseason tournament, but they are still playing for a possible regional at-large bid, while Troy still has a chance to finish in fifth place, as they trail ULM but only one-and-a-half games.
Troy ranks eight in the conference in hitting (.218) and fourth in ERA. (3.07).
South Alabama currently ranks fifth in the conference in hitting (.266), while leading the league in pitching, with a sparkling 1.25 team ERA.
South Alabama features Hannah Campbell and Farish Beard, who lead the league in individual ERA’s, at a 0.98 and an 0.99, respectively, while Troy features Ashley Rainey and Jaycee Affeldt, who rank 6th and 7th, with respective ERA's of 2.67 and 2.72.
The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 o’clock.
UT-ARLINGTON (20-29, 4-13) at TEXAS ST. (23-29, 6-12)
Texas St. is currently in sixth place in the conference standings, while UT-Arlington is in the cellar, but both still have a shot of finishing as high as fifth place in the standings.
UT-Arlington currently ranks fifth in the league in hitting (.271) and fifth in pitching (3.71), while Texas St. ranks sixth in hitting (.264), while ranking sixth in pitching (3.75 ERA.).
The series is scheduled for a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 pm, followed by a single game on Sunday at noon.
WKU (31-20-1, 10-8) at GEORGIA ST. (28-24, 10-8)
This is a key series, with third place on the line this weekend.
Georgia St. currently ranks tied for second in the league in hitting (.289), and seventh in pitching (4.01 ERA.), while WKU is fourth in hitting (.271) and third in pitching (3.06).
A doubleheader between the two squads is scheduled for Friday at 5 o’clock, with a single game scheduled for Saturday at noon.