Softball season ended for Central Arkansas Christian on Friday with an 11-3 loss to Bauxite in the Lady Mustangs’ 7-4A District Tournament opener.
Amy Zini’s Lady Mustangs closed 14-11 overall, one win short of advancing to this week’s Class 4A South Regional.
CAC was seeded fourth in the district tournament at Malvern after finishing the conference schedule 3-4. Bauxite, seeded fifth, had to win a first-round date with No. 8 Pulaski Robinson to reach the game with CAC.
"When we came in, Bauxite was hammering Robinson really hard, and our game was immediately after that," Zini said. "We were afraid it would be hard to shut their bats down, and it was. And we had a lot of errors. It was on a different surface than we’ve been playing on, and it just ate us up."
The highlight was senior Molleigh Gray’s final at-bat.
"She has the highest batting average on the team (.471) and is going to Williams Baptist to play next year, and on her last at-bat, she hit one out," Zini said. "She had not hit one out all year."
Zini praised the team’s three seniors — Gray, Kayley-Morganne Shields (who has signed with Belhaven) and Maycee Fendley.
"They were an awesome group of seniors as far as their leadership went," said Zini, who arrived at Mustang Mountain as an assistant when these three were freshmen and became head coach when they were sophomores. "They came to me early in the season and had ideas. I found ways to put all that into place.
"This team as a whole is so very close, and I think it’s mainly because of those seniors. Their leadership is going to be missed so much. They would make a lot of choices and stand behind the coaches on things that were not necessarily fun things but responsible and good for the team."
In the regular-season finale prior to the district tournament last week, the Lady Mustangs swept a doubleheader from Pulaski Academy, 16-0 and 20-2. They’ll return three seniors next year as well as their pitching and catching. Catcher Bailey Zini, who already has five scholarship offers, will be back for her junior season.
"I hope they’ve learned a lot about how to lead from these seniors," Amy Zini said.