Sun Belt Conference Softball Review – April 24
The seventh weekend of Sun Belt Conference softball is in the books, and the race is still on for the final qualifying spot in the conference postseason tournament.
Only 8 of the 10 league teams qualify for the event, which is scheduled for May 10-13 in Troy, and only one team has been eliminated, with two weekends remaining.
Let's take a look at what happened around the conference over the weekend:
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns opened their 6-game homestand on a high note, sweeping a three-game series from the Georgia St. Panthers at Lamson Park.
The Cajuns won the opening game of the series, 19-4, and took the second game, 7-1, prior to completing the sweep with a 14-6 triumph in the final game.
Louisiana, who has now won 35-consecutive Sun Belt Conference series’, hasn’t lost two games in a weekend in conference play since 2013, against South Alabama.
The Cajuns were impressive at the plate, scoring 40 runs and crushing 8 homers, while Alex Stewart recorded two wins in the circle, improving her career record to 31-1 in Sun Belt Conference play.
Louisiana is going to win the regular season league title, as they now lead Texas St. by 5 games in the loss column, but they want to continue to play high-level softball, and put themselves in a position to possibly host an NCAA Regional.
UL has won 4-straight, 19 of their last 20, and 26 of their last 28.
As for Georgia St., they shouldn't let the past weekend define them. The Panthers just ran in to a great team, playing really strong softball.
The Panthers, who are now 28-20, overall, and 13-8 in conference play, will likely enter the tournament as the three-seed, and depending on pitching, could be a dangerous foe in the postseason, with their dangerous bats.
Texas St. won 2-of-3 from Georgia Southern in Statesboro, Georgia, dropping the opening game, 2-0, before coming back to win games two (9-4) and three (4-3), to move to 34-11, overall, and 14-6 in league play.
The Bobcats, who host Troy next weekend, before closing at UTA, will likely finish the regular season in second place, which would be big for them, as their gunning for an NCAA Regional at-large bid, provided they don't win the tournament, which is always possible with a pitcher like Randi Rupp.
Georgia Southern, who is now 22-22, overall, and 12-9 in league play, still has a shot to finish the regular season in third place, but must finish against two tough opponents, in South Alabama and Georgia St.
South Alabama swept a series from ULM, but it didn't come easy. The Jaguars won the first two games, in extra innings, before taking the finale, 7-4.
South Alabama is now 28-17, overall, and 10-12 in league play, while ULM fell to 28-21, and 10-11, respectively.
Troy desperately needed a sweep over Appalachian St., and they got it, winning by scores of 8-3, 5-0, and 7-6.
The Trojans, who host the postseason tournament, are trying desperately to qualify, and moved into a virtual tie with Coastal Carolina for 8th place, with an 8-14 conference mark.
As for Appalachian St., the Mountaineers are still winless in the league, at 0-18, and their chances of qualifying for the postseason tournament are nonexistent, the only team to be eliminated from contention at this time.
Coastal Carolina continues to struggle of late, after being swept in a three-game set by UTA, giving them 8 losses in their last 9 conference games.
Hard to believe, but the Chanticleers, at ten games over .500, at 29-19, overall, are in danger of not even qualifying for the conference tournament, especially after having to travel to Louisiana next weekend.
UTA put themselves in great position to qualify for the tournament, at 11-10 in league play, with a match-up against Appalachian St. next weekend.
So, with two weekends of conference play remaining, Louisiana leads the way, at 17-1, followed by Texas St. (14-6), Georgia St. (13-8), Georgia Southern (12-9), UTA (11-10), ULM (10-11), South Alabama (10-12), Troy (8-14), Coastal Carolina (7-13), and Appalachian St. (0-17).
A lot could still happen, but it looks like Troy and Coastal Carolina are battling for that 8th and final spot in the postseason tournament.
The Chanticleers, who have to travel to face Louisiana this weekend, close out with winless Appalachian St. in Conway, South Carolina, while Troy, has to travel to Texas St. this weekend, before hosting South Alabama in a doubleheader on the last day of the season.
It's been a fun season so far, but there's still a lot on the line over the last couple of weeks!