KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The UMKC softball team (13-39, 2-13 WAC) is set to open play in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament this week in Las Cruces, N.M. The Roos will face three seed Seattle U on Wednesday, May 9 at 8 p.m. in the opening round of the tournament.
UMKC opens play in the WAC Tournament claiming one victory in a three-game home set against South Dakota last weekend. The team has had mixed results over the past few weeks, playing to a 3-6 record that included a series win over CSU Bakersfield. Entering the tournament as the six seed, the Roos will look to get hot in sparking a late season run in the desert.
The Redhawks and Roos matched up earlier this season in a three-game WAC series, where Seattle U claimed a sweep of UMKC on their home field. The first two games of the series were lopsided affairs before UMKC battled in a 1-0 pitcher’s duel in the finale.
Following a major offensive surge where the Roos averaged 6.7 runs per game in six contests against Utah Valley, Creighton and CSU Bakersfield, the bats have gone rather quiet once again. Excluding a nine-run performance against South Dakota, the team has scored just 2.2 runs per game in their previous five contests, including three games of scratching across two or less runs.
A pair of UMKC senior hitters have been hot in wrapping up their careers despite the team’s overall offensive struggles of late. Kelsey Goodwin (Broken Arrow, Okla.) has hit .455 (5 for 11) with a pair of home runs and five RBI’s over the last four games to lead the Roos. For the season, Goodwin is hitting .325 with five home runs and a tied for team-best 31 RBI’s in addition to leading the team with a .484 slugging percentage. Goodwin had a productive series against Seattle U pitching this season, going 3 for 8 in the three contests combined.
Ashlin O'Brien (Fond du Lac, Wis.) has been riding a wave of success at the plate in her final collegiate games as well, hitting .667 (10 for 15) with three RBI’s, three runs scored and a pair of walks in the previous five contests. The stretch included three consecutive three-hit games for the senior infielder. O’Brien leads the team with a .333 batting average and .428 on-base percentage for the season.
UMKC will likely turn to either Lynsey Conner (Peggs, Okla.) or Olivia Fluehr (Loves Park, Ill.) in the circle to face the Redhawks in game one of the WAC Tournament. Both pitchers have had varying results throughout the year, alternating dominant outings with sub-par performances.
Against Seattle U earlier this season, Conner worked five innings, allowing three earned runs on nine hits with three walks and a pair of punch outs. Fluehr put together an exceptional performance against the Redhawks, allowing just one run on five hits in a complete-game effort.
UMKC vs Seattle U
Location: Las Cruces, N.M. (NM State Softball Complex)
Series: UMKC leads 10-9
Last Meeting: April 7, 2018 (1-0 Seattle U)
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Live In-Game Update: @umkcsb
Scouting the Redhawks
Seattle U (33-21, 10-5 WAC) finished the 2018 season with a third-place WAC finish despite a relatively tough finish to conference play. The team won just two of its last six WAC matchups to close out the season before picking up a 2-1 nonconference victory on the road at Oregon State.
The Redhawks have proven themselves to be a very well-rounded team, near the top of the WAC in hitting, pitching and fielding statistics. Their 4.87 runs scored per game sits second in the conference, while their 2.84 team era and 5.14 strikeouts per game lead the WAC. Additionally, the team holds a .967 fielding percentage which is tied for best in the league. UMKC will need to be sharp in all phases of the game to pull out a win in matching up with an opponent with no glaring weaknesses.
The big bat in the Redhawks lineup comes from Madison Cathcart, a sophomore first baseman who leads the WAC in batting average (.428), on-base percentage (.589), slugging percentage (.931) and RBI’s (55). Cathcart has also smacked 18 home runs on the year which sits as second-most in the conference. Prior success against UMKC pitchers earlier this season make her an important player to shut down, as she went 4 for 8 with three walks, two doubles, two runs scored and a pair of runs driven in.
Seattle U will likely turn to either Andie Larkins or Carley Nance in the circle for game one of the WAC Tournament as both have put together stellar 2018 seasons and had strong showings against the Roos earlier this year. Larkins holds a 10-7 record with a 2.84 era, trailing only teammate Shianne Smith for best in the WAC. In her one appearance against the Roos in 2018, Larkins tossed a complete-game in allowing just two runs (both unearned) while walking three and striking out five.
Nance has been equally dominant this season, boasting a 14-12 record and 2.97 era over a conference-leading 157.2 innings pitched. Nance has been a strikeout machine, generating 121 on the year, leading the WAC by a wide margin. Against the Roos, Nance allowed just three hits and picked up a pair of strikeouts in a complete-game shutout win.
The Roos will play their second game of the WAC Tournament on Thursday, May 10. A win against Seattle U would match up UMKC with Utah Valley at 2 p.m. CT while a loss would set up a contest against either New Mexico State, CSU Bakersfield or Grand Canyon at 5 p.m. CT. All games in the WAC Tournament will be broadcast on the WAC Digital Network free of charge.
– UMKC –