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Team can achieve goals in final four games

Lady Lions add Hannah Lewis to roster

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  A year ago at this time the softball team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University was ending a 19-game losing streak. During an inaugural season in which they went 2-28, they were outscored by a 263-43 margin.

When it came to winning, they had the same chance as a grasshopper in a hen house. Slim.

Fast forward to the final week of the 2013 season.

Even after a recent skid that dropped their record to 12-21, the team still has one of their pre-season goals within their grasp.

The Lady Lions can earn an invitation in the National Christian College Athletic Association’s (NCCAA) Central Regional Tournament provided they can win three of their next four games.

That would allow their winning percentage to rise above 40%, the mark required for them to experience post-season play.

The tourney will be held on April 26-27 in Conway, Arkansas. The city that a country musician selected as his stage name is located fifteen miles north of Little Rock.

SAGU has four games remaining, three of them this weekend at Huston-Tillotson University. The Lady Rams are struggling this season at 1-31.

Last spring they swept the Lady Lions in Waxahachie during their 12-27 campaign. SAGU hopes to return the favor. 

Krieg Fields serves as the home of HT softball. A photo of the complex is posted below. It is a 165-mile trek south to Austin.

A sweep would be the second in conference action this year for Team Purple, though they have already taken three in a series on three occasions.

Head Coach Tim Grant has not announced who will start in the circle for the Lady Lions, though he has confidence in all four of the team’s hurlers.

Shannen Nance (Enid, Ok / Kremlin-Hillsdale HS), a sophomore, has the most experience and wins. At 6-12 this season, she will likely garner one of the starts.

Freshman Blayr Huff (Keller, Tx / Liberty Christian) is 3-3, while sophomore transfer Ashley Abair (Kennedale, Tx / Frank Phillips College, Kennedale HS), at 3-5, has been very effective of late.

Nance and Abair lead the arms race with 13 starts apiece.

Feliciana Maldonado (Victorville, Cal / Victor Valley) is a fast-worker from the pitcher’s slab. A change-of-pace reliever, she does have two starts (0-1).

The itinerary for this weekend at Tillotson is as follows:

Game One: Friday, 7:00pm
Game Two: Saturday at noon
Game Three: Saturday, approximately 2:00pm

Weather forecasts for the state capital are calling for sunny conditions and 0% chance of rain on both days. Expected highs are 72 for Friday and 78 degrees on Saturday. Scattered storms will be in the area through Thursday.

Both teams have similar pitching statistics, though SAGU has an advantage at the plate. The Lady Lions outscore the Lady Ewes 4.48 runs per game to 1.61 and outhit Tillotson, .302 to .221.

Defensively, HT has yielded 199 runs while Southwestern has allowed 222.

A quick start in each game would help the cause of the Purple Pride.

Making Tracks: Lady Lions roster news

The Lady Lions roster has been reduced by injuries over the past month. Senior Cassandra Mata (Crystal City, Tx / Crystal City HS) has been ruled out for the remaining games. She was hurt in a slide into second base last weekend.

Coach Grant took a step to fill that void by adding a new player this week.

He revealed the addition of 5-foot-9 Hannah Lewis. She is likely to serve in a utility role. Lewis, a sophomore, also plays on the SAGU volleyball team.

She hails from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, 15 miles southeast of Tulsa, where she participated in athletics for the Broken Arrow HS Tigers.

Coach Grant also addressed the team’s appeal of a controversial ruling at the end of Monday’s game against Hillsdale College, which has not been resolved.

A player from SAGU was ejected for knocking down an opponent who had blocked her path to third base. The Lady Lions had no one available on the bench to replace her, causing the game to be declared a forfeit.

The game was tied, 8-8, in the bottom of the fourth inning at the time.

There has been no word on what result the team hopes for, but lifting the NAIA rule of a one-game suspension of an ejected player could prove very important to the team this weekend.

Regular season finale at home on Tuesday

SAGU has a final game on tap for next Tuesday, April 23, when they host Northwood University (19-14, 12-2 in RRAC). The first pitch is set for 4:00pm.

The Knights are battling Our Lady of the Lake University (33-12, 19-3 in RRAC) for the championship in the Red River Athletic Conference.

The two teams have a season-ending series in San Antonio that is slated for April 26-27.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at 469-658-2847.