Aggies welcome Greyhounds to diamond
When Cameron's softball team bolted out to a 6-0 start in Lone Star Conference action, it stirred up plenty of optimism around campus but since that start the Aggies have gone 4-8 in LSC action and instead of leading the league, they are now in the middle of the pack in sixth place.
Texas A&M-Commerce leads at 16-2, West Texas is second at 12-3 and Angelo State third with a 14-4 mark. Tarleton State comes next at 14-7 followed by Texas Woman's University at 9-6 and Cameron at 10-8.
Today the Aggies are scheduled to host Eastern New Mexico in a 1 p.m. doubleheader at McMahon Park. They will wind up with a single game Saturday at 2 p.m. While the threat of rain and storms has brought about some cancellations of events around Lawton, both coaches are going to try and get the three-game series completed.
CU, which is 22-11 overall including sweeping a three-game series from Oklahoma Christian earlier this week, comes into today's twinbill with a .280 average, scoring 171 runs thanks in part to day's twinbill with a .280 average, scoring 171 runs thanks in part to 72 stolen bases, third best mark in the Lone Star.
What's somewhat surprising is that the Aggies have struggled against teams at the top and those down in the bottom of the league standings. CU has gone 1-2 against A&M-Commerce and Tarleton State, nothing to be upset about since both have strong teams.
But Dennis Furr's Aggies have also gone 1-2 against Texas A&M-Kingsville (9-12) and Midwestern (7-14) and both of those clubs are ranked below CU.
Furr says this is the time to get back in sync and hosting Eastern New Mexico (8-13) may be just the way to find that groove again.
"It's been that we just aren't getting those clutch hits with runners in scoring position," Furr said. "And, there are times where the girls aren't making productive outs, like moving that runner from second to third by hitting a ground ball to the right side.
"Those four series where we went 1-2 could have all been changed around by making just a couple of plays in critical situations. We do have some good veterans but we also have some younger players. They just need to produce when runners are in scoring position; it's pretty simple."
In the other phases of the game pitching and defense Furr believes his club is doing well, better than most of the teams in the conference.
"Our pitching has been really strong with (Bethany) Hines and (Rylee) Willmon," Furr said. "Hines had an incredible season last year and Willmon is a juco kid who has been really solid for us out there. It's good to have two strong pitchers like those two, but we also have a couple of others who can help us when we need them."
In the circle, CU has a team ERA of 2.39 with 160 total strikeouts. Willmon has been dominant in LSC play, posting a 1.66 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 67.2 innings of work against league opponents; she is 11-6 with a 2.18 ERA and 68 strikeouts overall. Hines has also had a successful year, going 10-5 with a 2.51 ERA and 86 strikeouts on the season.
Hines had a great freshman season, posting a 25-8 record with a 3.43 earned run average, fanning 125, and earning All-LSC honors.
Willmon played high school ball at Luther before landing at Northeastern A&M where she posted solid numbers that caught the eye of Furr.
The pitchers have also benefited from good defense.
"We stumbled a little Wednesday against Oklahoma Christian but otherwise our defense has been good," Furr said. "We were averaging less than one error per game until then and it went up a little. When you are getting good pitching and playing good defense, you feel good about your chances but we just need to execute better the rest of the way.
"We have the talent to win the conference; it's just a matter of getting those clutch hits and when we have an opportunity to move a runner, or to drive somebody home, we have to make good contact. Our two-out run production must get better."
Furr hasn't altered the lineup much but can if he sees the need.
"We have six kids who are pretty consistent and we have six others who are fighting to get out there in those other three spots," he said. "It's nice to have that many good hitters."