A single by third baseman Sam Forrest scored the game’s only run as No. 6 seed Central Arkansas defeated No. 3 seed Sam Houston in the opening round of the Southland Conference Softball Tournament Thursday afternoon in Hammond, La.
UCA pitcher Kylee Studioso limited the Bearkats to four hits as she faced 26 batters in the seven-inning contest played as Southeastern Louisiana’s North Oak Park.
The Bearkats are scheduled to play again at 11 a.m. Friday morning, weather permitting, against the loser of the Stephen F. Austin versus McNeese State game.
Only twice in the Southland tournament’s 27-year history has a team come out of the elimination bracket to earn the league’s NCAA Championships berth by winning the tournament. Texas-Arlington overcame an opening round loss in 1987 in Denton and McNeese fought back to defeat Sam Houston in the finals in Hammond in 2005.
In 11 trips to the Southland tournament, Sam Houston has lost its opening round game five times. Two years ago, the Kats bounced back from an opening round lost to reach the finals against eventual champion Texas State in San Antonio. The Kats also forced an “as necessary” game in the finals last year in Natchitoches, La, after falling in the second round of the tournament.
“It’s tough to come back out of the elimination bracket, there’s no doubt,” SHSU head coach Bob Brock said. “We played well defensively and got some good pitching. Everything we hit today was a fly ball right to somebody. We’ve need to come up with some timely hits if we’re going to advance.”
Sam Houston never got a runner farther than second base.
Center fielder Jessica Slater singled and stole second in both the third and fifth innings. Third baseman Tori Koerselman singled and reached second on a wild pitch in the first. Catcher Tiffany Castillo hit a one-out single up the middle but went no farther in the sixth inning.
UCA center fielder Amy Gunnells led off the top of the fifth inning with an infield single. She was sacrificed to second and scored on Forrest’s single through the right side.
Shelby Lancaster (10-10) went the distance in the circle for Sam Houston, allowing six hits and facing 28 batters. She struck out two.
Sam Houston drops to 26-26 for the year while Central Arkansas now owns a 25-32 record.