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HomeSportsInstant Peay Play: APSU Softball team heads into uncharted territory

Instant Peay Play: APSU Softball team heads into uncharted territory

Instant Peay Play - APSU SportsClarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University’s softball team wrapped up its best regular season in school history May 6th, including a school-record 11-game win streak to put a final bow on the season, but now the stakes are even higher as they head into the post season for the first time since 2007.

The Govs enter the Ohio Valley Conference Softball Championship as the overall #2-seed — finishing with a 36-15 overall record and a 17-4 mark in conference play this spring – but of the field of eight teams it has the least post-season experience.

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

Of the other teams in this year’s tournament field, Jacksonville State, Southern Illinois Edwardsville, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Illinois have rosters that have never missed an OVC Tournament; while Morehead State and Tennessee Martin have been twice and Southeast Missouri once over the past three seasons.

In a couple of words, ‘post-season experience’.

Austin Peay on the other hand has only three players (Morgan Rackel, Kelly Mardones and Natalie Schilling) on its roster that have seen post-season action on the collegiate level – all coming at the junior college level.

But while the team may not have much postseason experience their first-year head coach Rodney DeLong does, having taken his former team Cameron University to two NCAA Division II Regionals.

Still, despite the inexperience this team had to begin the season to even think about making the post-season tournament field they have bucked the odds all season long and the up-coming post season shouldn’t be any different.

Why?

Several reasons.

One: Despite little post-season experience, the team is a very upper-class laden team with a senior and seven juniors accounting for most of the regular starting lineup this season, along with two freshmen and two sophomores.

Two: They know they can play with anyone in the tournament field having either swept or split with every team in the tournament except Jacksonville State, who they dropped two games to by a total of three runs.

Three: The team is strong in all facets of the game – hitting, pitching, defense and base running.

Heading into the tournament, the Govs are tied with Eastern Illinois for the top spot in the conference in team batting average, lead the Conference in team ERA, are second in stolen bases and seventh in team defense and if you look at just about any stat category across the board they are right there among the conference leaders.

Four: This one maybe be the biggest reason of all, this team is mentally ready to play in the postseason.

In the past there seemed to be just a little bit of a specter of doubt that would creep in from time to time during the season, this team hasn’t shown that. They are confident, talented, aggressive and they have a swagger that comes out when they play.

Anyone who’s watched this team over the season has said the same thing for the most part – they’re a fun team to watch. Will that bring an OVC championship? Who knows. But one thing is for sure about this team heading into the postseason, if you’re going to beat them you better bring your ‘A’ Game because any less won’t do anymore.

The Govs open up the OVC Championship Tournament against Tennessee Martin, 12:30pm, May 9th at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, AL, with the tournament running through Saturday, May 12th.

Chris Austin
Chris Austinhttp://www.clarksvillesportsnetwork.com
Chris Austin is a graduate of Clarksville High School and Austin Peay State University. Chris is a former Head Softball Coach for APSU, and assistant basketball coach for CHS. Chris has worked at the Leaf-Chronicle, and WJZM News/Talk/Sports radio. Has also worked at the Sports Information Department at APSU, and has covered championship events for the Ohio Valley Conference and NCAA. Chris is an avid sports fan and can be found at most Austin Peay State University sports events.
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