With the regular season behind them, Cleveland State now has the TCCAA Region 7 softball tournament in its sights.
The Lady Cougars (15-33, 8-27) have made the trip to Gallatin, where they will take on Motlow State in a play-in game on Sunday, with the first pitch slated for 2 p.m. ET.
"I am really excited about the progress we have made over the last few weeks and how we have gotten better in our performance on the field. I know we are ready for the tournament and am anticipating good things from our team," Cleveland State head coach Katie Willingham stated.
"The best part about the tournament is that we don't have to worry about a weekend series or playing one team multiple times - we just have to focus on one game at a time."
Their first game pairs the No. 9 Lady Cougars against No. 8 Lady Bucks (12-33, 8-24).
"If we lose, we are done. If we win, we will play No. 1 seed Walters State on Monday," Willingham said.
In their early February meeting, Motlow State won the 4-game conference series 3-1. The two teams have very similar records, but the Lady Cougars out hit the Lady Bucks with a batting average of .307 to .271 and have 406 hits on the season, while Motlow has 318. Cleveland State leads the way in on base percentage .374 to .327.
The two leading pitchers for Motlow have ERA's of 5.88 and 6.31, while Cleveland State is led by Haley Hodgson at 5.64, Erin Hollis, 6.14 and Carly Frost, 6.50. Opponents have banged out 479 hits versus Lady Buck pitching, while Lady Cougar pitchers have given up 465 hits on the season.
The Lady Cougars have eight batters who hit over .300, while Motlow crosses the finish line with four batters over .300.
Cleveland State is led by Emily Banks who bats at .420 (18 RBI's); Macy Bryant, .366 (29 RBI's); Adri Jones, .364; Rachael Pierce, .360 (20 RBI's); Grayson Brown .346 (19 RBI's); Hannah Jones, .333; and Brittany Arnold, .311 (19 RBI's).
"Our weaknesses are injuries right now and sometimes that happens at the end of a season. Playing over 50 games will do that to an athlete's body. We also need to improve on scoring runners when they are in scoring positions. Execution at the plate will help us get the run support we need to win," Willingham detailed.
"We possess many strengths such as our defense, that has vastly improved over the last month. The girls have an incredible drive to win and are competitors. We need to work on focusing our energy on our strengths and what we can bring to the game on Sunday. If we can do that, then we will play a great game against Motlow."
The TCCAA Region 7 softball tournament will be played at Gallatin, with the winner of the tournament competing in the NJCAA National Tournament in St. George, Utah May 17-20.
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