After three weeks of non-conference action that has seen the Bearkats roll up some impressive performances against top teams, the Sam Houston State softball team opens Southland Conference action with Stephen F. Austin State Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Lumberjacks were the surprise team of the 2008 SLC softball campaign. The Jacks went from a 12-18 ninth place finisher in 2007 to an 18-11 fourth place squad that won the Southland post-season tournament to earn the league's NCAA regional berth.
Sam Houston enters Tuesday's 3 p.m. doubleheader at Bearkat Softball Complex with a 6-7 record while Stephen F. Austin stands 3-9. Both records are deceiving as the two teams have performed well against national competition.
The Bearkats own a victory over No. 21 LSU and went extra innings with Texas A&M and Baylor of the Big 12. SFA lost a pair of close games by margins of 4-3 and 3-1 to No. 8 Oklahoma last weekend and have posted victories over Mississippi and New Mexico.
Sam Houston definitely is improved at the plate with six starters hitting better than .300. Calli Wood leads the Kats with a .360 average. Other top hitters include Erin Burford (.357), Hailey Wiginton (.341), Casie Everitt (.321), Sarah Parich (.314) and Alex Survant (.306). Parich earned all-tournament honors at the LSU Classic.
In the pitcher's circle for the Kats are senior Brandi Crnkovic, junior Morgan Mikulin and freshman Tomi Garrison. The staff has combined for a 2.07 earned run average. Crnkovic leads the team with 24 strike outs. Mikulin has fanned 18 batters.
All-Southland Conference pitcher Monika Covington heads the Lumberjack pitching staff with a 2.75 earned run average and 36 strike outs in 40 innings work. Kendal Harper is the Jacks' top hitter with a .286 average.