Bentonville, AR —
The East Central University softball team saw its run in the 2013 Great American Conference Tournament come to an end with Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Henderson State.
“This weekend had some ups and downs,” said head coach Destini Anderson. “Getting in the losers bracket and having to battle back was tough, but we showed a lot of heart. I’m extremely pleased with this season as a whole and how we came together as a team.”
The Lady Tigers (43-12) saw two hits from sophomore Lauren Bancroft. Sophomore Brianna Nunley suffered the loss in the circle, allowing six hits, two runs and striking out four.
The Lady Reddies (23-31) scored single runs in the bottom of the first and bottom of the sixth.
ECU left at least on runner on base in each of the first six innings, stranding seven throughout the game.
Three freshmen from the Lady Tiger’s roster made the 2013 GAC All-Tournament team for their efforts over the past four days.
Lacey Paulk was named to the team as a pitcher after recording a 2-1 record and a 1.83 ERA. Paulk allowed 12 hits and four runs, while striking out nine in 15.1 innings of work.
Leah Tigert earned a spot on the team after leading ECU with a .600 average in five games. Tigert tallied nine hits, scored three runs, tallied seven RBIs and five putouts.
Autumn Suydam was also named to the team after a .545 average. Suydam tallied six hits, three runs, one RBI, was 2-2 in stolen bases and had seven put outs.
Two members of the Lady Tigers squad played, what may be their final games in an orange and black uniform; seniors Ali Manship and Shelby Simmons.
Manship made an immediate impact on the 2012 edition of the Lady Tigers both in the circle and at the plate. She was named the Great American Conference Newcomer of the Year, to the All-GAC First team and the GAC All-Academic Team after finishing fifth in the conference in pitching wins and third in saves. She started her senior season with back-to-back GAC Player of the week honors, earning the pitcher of the week for February 5 and Player of the Week February 12 and was named to the 2013 All-GAC Second Team.
Simmons has been a key member of the Lady Tigers for the past four seasons. As a freshman she earned All-Lone Star Conference North honorable mention honors and was named to the 2010 LSC Championship all-tournament team. She improved to an All-LSC First Team honoree as a sophomore. In 2012 she was named to the Great American Conference All-Academic Team and earned the honor as the NCAA’s Toughest to Strikeout, by not being struck out in any of her 166 at-bats. As a senior she continued to rake in awards earning GAC Player of the Week honors for March 18 and being named to the Tarleton State All-Tournament Team. She wrapped up the 2013 regular season by being named to the All-GAC First Team and earning the GAC Player of the Year honors.
“We could not have had the year we had without Ali and Shelby’s leadership and hard work,” Anderson added. “They have meant a lot to this program and will be missed.”
The Lady Tigers will now have to wait until the final NCAA Regional Rankings are released Wednesday to find out if their season will be over or if they will advance to the NCAA Central Regional.