Softball Lions look to climb MIAA ladder

This week might be the biggest of the Missouri Southern softball season as the Lions take on Central Missouri and Southwest Baptist in doubleheaders today and tomorrow.

Southern is coming off a sweep of rival Pittsburg State last week to help the University win the Sonic Trophy Series, as well as splitting games with Emporia State, the No. 14  team in the nation, losing 8-0 and winning 4-0 in the second game, and beating Missouri Western 7-0 in the first matchup, but falling 5-4 in extra innings in the nightcap.

Overall, last week was huge for the Lions, going 4-2 to improve their record to 26-19 and 9-7 in the MIAA.

“We had a very good week, and Pitt State is a big rivalry game so those games are always huge,” Head Coach Bill Gray said. “If we don’t win those games it does not make a difference what we do against Emporia and Western. We’ve got some momentum and confidence, now we’ve just got to build on it this week.”

Nicole Reed has yet again come through for the Lions as she has struck out 38 batters in her last five appearances. Reed sports a 20-6 overall record and easily leads the conference with 183 strikeouts. Jackie Bishop of Missouri Western has 164.

Even though Reed has been dominating, the Lions have been inconsistent offensively. Dawn Grass has tied the school record for home runs in a season with nine, but the Lions have been leaving runners on base in key situations.

“It is a situation where we have to have consistency from everybody,” Gray said. “The games where we have struggled are the ones where we struggle in the bottom half of the order.”

The Lions took on Truman on Thursday but scores were not available at press time.

If the Lions win out or go 5-1 over the last six games there is a chance Southern could earn up to a No. 3 seed in the conference tournament, but at the same time if they slip over the final stretch they could barely grab a spot.

The Lions’ destiny is in their own hands. They have a chance to make a run at a high seed in the tournament, but it will rest on this weekend’s matchups. Gray says Southern can compete with any team in the MIAA, now they just have to prove what they are made of.