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Softball Ends World Series Pool Play; Faces Clemson Next


COLUMBUS, Ga. — Arkansas State University’s softball team finished pool play and will face Clemson Saturday morning to begin the double elimination round in the 2017 National Club Softball Association (NCSA) World Series. The game starts at 9 a.m. at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus.

The Red Wolves, who came into the tournament seeded fourth, started pool play on a strong note by defeating Sacred Heart, 8-4, then fell to Florida State, 5-1 in the second game. Defending tournament champion James Madison ended play for the day, handing A-State a 3-0 loss.

“We didn’t hit the ball like we are capable of,” said head coach Chris Powers. “But, we’re a good hitting team, so I think we’ll do better tomorrow. Our goal was to get out of pool play without any injuries and fresh legs. I think we did that.”

Clemson, the top seed coming into the tournament, opened pool play with a decisive 10-0 victory over Grand Canyon, but were upset in the next game with a 14-3 loss to Iowa State. Ohio State knocked off the Tigers, 2-1, in the final game.

Following pool play, all teams were reseeded with Arkansas State in the eighth slot and Clemson in the ninth. The Saturday schedule, originally set to begin at 10 a.m., will begin at 9 a.m. due to the threat of inclement weather.

Powers had praise for pitcher Ciara Watson, a freshman right-hander from Gosnell. “Ciara pitched well today. Our ace pitcher, Shea Cothren, only pitched two innings, so she is going to be ready to go in the morning.”

Cothren of Paragould, with an earned run average of 1.88, has an 11-3 record on the year and was selected as the NCSA National Pitcher of the Week twice. She is a first team All-America pick from 2016. 

Powers also pointed out the pool play efforts of Chloe Vaught and Rachel Hinson, saying, “They hit the ball well.” Vaught is junior from Morrilton, while Hinson is a sophomore from Vilonia.

“Obviously, we would like to win every game,” concluded Powers, who is in his 19th season. “But, experience has told me it is better to have fresh bodies going into bracket play.”

The Red Wolves, who won the Mid-America-East Conference with a 12-0 mark, now stand 25-10 overall. This is Arkansas State’s fifth consecutive time to attend the NCSA national championship tournament.