When it comes to TWU’s softball season, one door is about to close while another is about to open to what essentially is the Pioneers’ second season.
TWU will end its regular season with a three-game series at Cameron this weekend that remains vitally important to both teams in terms of the upcoming Lone Star Conference tournament as well as the NCAA South Central Region tournament.
The Pioneers (31-15, 16-9 LSC) will face the Aggies (28-16, 14-10) in a doubleheader at 2 p.m. Friday before wrapping up regular-season play with a single game at noon Saturday.
Before either team can make plans for the May 2-3 LSC tournament, they must focus on this weekend’s action. The teams are nose-to-tail in the LSC standings — TWU is in third place while Cameron is fourth — and the two are separated by just one spot in the South Central rankings, which help determine qualifying teams for the NCAA regional tournament.
“It’s a good thing that we go down there and try to get two out of three,” TWU coach Genny Stidham said. “I think we’ll be better off in that 3 spot rather than fourth. It’s important for us to go down there and win a couple of games. If we win two out of the three, we’re in good shape to stay in the 3 spot.”
The Pioneers need one win to lock down the No. 3 seed in the LSC tournament. That position would provide an easier route to the championship game, as the No. 3 seed opens play against the No. 6 seed, with the winner advancing to play the No. 2 seed in the semifinals.
The fourth seed opens against the No. 5 seed, with the winner facing the No. 1 seed and tournament host in the other semifinal.
TWU is No. 4 in the South Central rankings and needs two wins over the Aggies to claim the head-to-head tiebreaker with Cameron. The Pioneers defeated Cameron, ranked sixth in the region, in a 4-3 decision March 13 at the LSC Showcase.
“We still have to go there and play good ball,” Stidham said. “Having played them, we now have a pitching chart on them and a little bit of information on them, and that should help.”
TWU has won four of its last six games. The Pioneers split a doubleheader at Tarleton State last weekend, registering a come-from-behind 9-6 win in the first game and dropping the second game 7-5. Junior first baseman Kendra Sancet sparked the Pioneers with a three-run homer in the first game and finished the doubleheader with six runs batted in.
Cameron is led at the plate by Tara Martini, who is hitting .400 with 56 RBIs and has a conference-leading 17 doubles. Pitcher Kelsey Watson has 15 wins with a 3.17 ERA.
The field for the LSC tournament has been set, with Angelo State, Cameron, Midwestern State, Tarleton and West Texas A&M joining the Pioneers in the battle for the title and automatic berth in the regional tournament.
The regular-season champion will host the single-elimination LSC tournament, with the top two seeds drawing first-round byes.
Pioneers to hold open tryout Tuesday night
An open tryout for the TWU team will be held Tuesday for high school seniors, junior college players and full-time TWU students. The tryout will be at 7 p.m. at Kitty Magee Arena.
TWU students must provide a current transcript to verify their full-time enrollment. The transcript must be submitted to assistant coach Taylor High in Suite 220 at Pioneer Hall.
Junior college players who have not exhausted their two-year eligibility can only attend the tryout if they have not signed a national letter of intent with another NCAA school.
All interested athletes must complete and turn in participation forms that can be found at www.twuathletics.com. The forms must be turned in by Thursday to Room 133 at Pioneer Hall or faxed to Nikki Sanchez at 940-898-2375.
More information about the tryout is available by calling High at 940-898-2621.