A year after reaching the Class 5A State Tournament as the second seed from the 5A-Southwest, Central Arkansas Christian’s softball team is rebuilding as it moves to Class 4A.
"We’re just young," Lady Mustang coach Amy Zini said Sunday. "We lost four starters off last year’s team."
CAC entered spring break 2-6 overall, having beaten Glen Rose in its opener, 19-1; fallen to Conway, 10-3; Maumelle, 15-14; Conway again, 15-0; and Jessieville, 9-5. The Lady Mustangs traveled to Hope over the weekend for a tournament, where they fell to Dover in extra innings, 9-8; lost to Camden Fairview, 8-2; and beat Nevada, 18-1.
They were tied with Class 5A Fairview after three innings, 2-2, but a collision between sophomore shortstop Rachel Basham and freshman outfielder Dana Potts resulted in two injuries, an ambulance ride to the hospital for Potts and the Lady Mustangs having to finish the tournament with just eight players.
Potts was fine, but Zini said Basham suffered a knee injury and was to see a doctor early in the week.
Still, Zini said she saw progress during the Hope tournament.
"We saw some really good things," she said. "Being tied with Camden before the injury — we were right there with them. We have outhit four of the teams we’ve lost to. We’ve just had a lot of errors."
Three Lady Mustangs are batting .500 or better: senior third baseman/pitcher Catie Burleson, who will play for Missouri-Kansas City next year, .571; Bailey Zini, freshman catcher, .545; and junior center fielder Molleigh Gray, .500.
CAC fell to Alma, an eventual semifinalist, in the opening round of the state tournament last year. In order to reach the Class 4A State Tournament this year, the Lady Mustangs will have to survive district and regional tournaments. CAC is in the 7-4A with Arkadelphia, Arkansas Baptist, Ashdown, Bauxite, Malvern, Nashville and Pulaski Robinson. The top four finishers from that district tournament will advance to the South Regional against the top four among the 8-4A (Crossett, DeWitt, Dumas, Hamburg, Lake Village, Monticello, Star City and Warren).
"It’s a competitive conference, and we’re going to have to make those adjustments and get those young girls caught up fast to be competitive," Zini said.
CAC will open conference play Monday, March 25 following spring break when it plays host to Arkansas Baptist.
"They’re an older team and they have a lot of players who have played together for years," Zini said. "They have older pitching. It’s going to be a challenge