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Instant Peay Play: APSU Softball off to best start in over a decade

Instant Peay Play - APSU SportsClarksville, TN – After sweeping its four games this past weekend at the East Tennessee Buccaneer Classic, the Austin Peay State University softball team is off to its best start to a season in 11 years under the direction of its new head coach Rodney DeLong.

The Govs are currently 10-7 after its first 17 games this season, matching the 2007 Governors softball team, who finished their season 28-30 overall and were the last APSU softball team to make the Ohio Valley Conference post-season tournament field.

2018 Austin Peay State University Softball Team. (APSU Sports Information)
2018 Austin Peay State University Softball Team. (APSU Sports Information)

Since 2007, the Govs have averaged six OVC wins a year since last making the tournament and have averaged a finish of a 10th-place in the conference standings over that span, with the Top 8 teams making the tournament field.

So, what has changed so far this year?

Well, the first thing that jumps out at you is their pitching, which has posted a 2.76 ERA so far this season and improvement of 1.84 runs from last year, while holding opponents to a .264 batting average, down from .309 in 2017 and handing out the fewest number of walks to opponents in the OVC.

Leading that turnaround in the circle are a couple of junior-college All-American transfers in Morgan Rackel (5-2) and Kelly Mardones (3-2), who both have ERA’s under two, while last year’s lone pitching returnee Kelsey Gross (2-3) after a slow start has posted an ERA of 2.65 over her last 13.1 innings pitched.

But that is just the beginning, as along with a much-improved pitching staff, the Govs offense is hitting at a .285 clip – which is on pace to be the highest team batting average in 20 years.

To no surprise, juniors Danielle Liermann and Kacy Acree led the Govs offensive attack, with Liermann hitting a blistering .490 so far this season, with a staggering slugging percentage of 1.157, which includes seven doubles and nine home runs, while driving in 29 runs.

Acree, who missed four games due to the flu a couple of weeks back is hitting .375, with a .725 slugging percentage, with five doubles, three home runs and 13 RBI in 13 games played.
But it hasn’t been a two-person show for the Govs at the plate, with newcomers Bailey Shorter, Natalie Schilling, Brooke Pfefferle and Rackel all helping APSU pack an overall offensive punch they haven’t had in a while.

Now add returnees Carly Mattson, who can leave the yard in any at bat and Kendall Vedder, who is just getting her swing back after having off-season wrist surgery, the Govs are dangerous up and down their lineup.

Finally, the Govs defense has been solid this spring, committing the third fewest errors by OVC teams (18) and a fielding percentage of .960, which would rank them as one of the Top three fielding teams in APSU history.

While there are still a lot of the season left to be played and OVC play doesn’t open for another couple of weeks, the Governors look to have all the pieces together to not only make a run at getting into the post season but make some noise once they get there.


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