KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The UMKC softball team (12-34, 2-10 WAC) will wrap up Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play for the 2018 season with a three-game set at Grand Canyon this weekend. The series will begin with a doubleheader on Friday, Apr. 27 beginning at 7 p.m. CT before concluding with the finale on Saturday, Apr. 28 at 7 p.m. CT.
The Roos enter the final WAC series of the season on the heels of a series win at home over CSU Bakersfield last weekend. The two victories were the first two conference wins of the season and put the team just one game back of fifth place. A sweep of Grand Canyon could potentially move the Roos up as high as fourth in the WAC standings to end conference play.
UMKC has had no problem generating offense over the past two weeks, averaging 6.7 runs per game over their past six contests. The recent surge has bumped the Roos up to scoring 2.83 runs per game in WAC play, good for fifth in the league.
Kelsey Goodwin (Broken Arrow, Okla.) and Alyx Bloom (Clay Center, Kan.) have been huge factors in the potent offense and will look to stay hot down the final stretch. In the past five games, Goodwin is hitting .500 (8 for 16) with two home runs, six RBI’s and a pair of walks. In conference play, Goodwin boasts a .389 batting average, good for sixth in the WAC.
Bloom, fresh off a WAC Hitter of the Week award, has been equally effective at the plate for UMKC of late. In five games last week, Bloom hit .636 (7 for 11) with a double, triple and home run along with drawing five walks. Her 18 walks on the season leads the team and is sixth-most in the WAC while her on-base percentage of .472 in league play also ranks sixth in the conference.
The Roos pitching staff will also look to build off what was a promising series in the circle last weekend. Lynsey Conner (Peggs, Okla.) picked up a win over CSU Bakersfield in her start and allowed three earned runs over 10 strong innings of work in two total appearances. Olivia Fluehr (Loves Park, Ill.) looks to rebound after a tough start in the series finale, which came off a complete-game victory in the opener with CSU Bakersfield.
UMKC @ Grand Canyon
Location: Phoenix, Ariz. (GCU Softball Stadium)
Series: GCU leads 8-4
Last Meeting: April 8, 2017 (10-1 GCU)
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Live In-Game Update: @umkcsb
Scouting the Lopes
Grand Canyon (24-23, 5-6 WAC) opens play this weekend after picking up a series win in conference play on the road at Seattle U. Currently, GCU sits in fourth-place in the WAC standings, two games back of Utah Valley for third place in the league.
The Lopes are powered by a lineup that features five starters hitting above .300 for the season and three sitting at .350 or better. Junior Sierra Smith leads the team with an outstanding .363 batting average, fifth-best in the WAC, and also has notched a team-leading 10 stolen bases on the year. Senior catcher Niki Gonzalez will also be a hitter for the UMKC pitching staff to attack carefully, ranking top-five in the conference in slugging percentage (.635), doubles (12), home runs (9) and RBI’s (36).
As a team, GCU leads the conference with a collective .307 batting average and sits third in the league in scoring 4.83 runs per game on the year. Conference play has proven to be a bit tougher on the Lopes lineup, hitting .283 and averaging 3.45 runs per game.
GCU’s pitching staff has been another strong facet of the team in 2018, sporting an era of 3.40 and limiting opponents to a .281 batting average. Unlike Lopes’ bats that have cooled off since beginning WAC play, pitching has taken a step up with a team era of 2.59 and a .276 batting average against. Brianna Aguilar-Beaucage has gotten the majority of the work in the circle for GCU, holding a 10-13 record with 3.39 era over a team-leading 134.1 innings of work, second-most in the WAC.
Alexa Coons and Yesenia Morrison also have provided quality pitching for the lopes with over 70 innings in the circle on the season. Morrison ranks third in the WAC with a 2.67 era while Coons has limited opposing hitters to a stingy .239 average, second-lowest in the conference. The UMKC lineup will likely see at least two of three Lopes hurlers in the series and will look to stay hot against the tough matchups.
UMKC will return home following the Saturday finale to close out the regular season with a three-game series against South Dakota over May 4-5. All three contests will be broadcast on the WAC Digital Network free of charge.
– UMKC –