Central Arkansas Christian will enter the 7-4A District Softball Tournament this week as the fourth seed and will thus need to win only its first game to advance to next week’s Class 4A South Regional.
Amy Zini’s Lady Mustangs closed the conference schedule 3-4 with Friday’s 8-3 loss to Ashdown. They beat Riverview in a non-conference game Monday, 4-3, to improve to 8-10 overall.
They will open the district tournament Friday at Malvern against the winner of the first-round game between fifth-seeded Bauxite and eighth-seeded Pulaski Robinson. They beat Bauxite during the regular season, 7-4, and lost to Robinson, 12-11.
The other first-round game Friday is between No. 6 Arkansas Baptist and No. 7 Arkadelphia. Malvern, the third seed, will get that winner in Friday’s late game.
Should CAC win its opener, it would advance to Saturday’s semifinal against Nashville, the conference champion and top seed. No. 2 Ashdown will face the survivor of Malvern-Baptist/Arkadelphia. The championship and consolation games will also be Saturday. The top four finishers will advance to the South Regional at Star City against the top four from the 8-4A May 9-10.
Zini was optimistic Monday about her team’s chances in the post-season.
"We are probably playing our best here lately in conference," she said. "We need to be sure to not let up and we need to stay focused."
CAC was scheduled for two non-conference opponents early in the week to prep for the post-season: Riverview on Monday and Pulaski Academy on Tuesday.
Against Ashdown, the Lady Mustangs were within 4-3 through the top of the sixth.
"But in the bottom of the inning, we blew three opportunities to get the third out with no additional runs scored, but we could not close it," Zini said. "Errors let them add four runs to their lead. Until the last inning, the defense was tight."
She praised the play of sophomore Taylor Kittinger, who "had an amazing last at-bat, going 11 pitches to full count before lining out to center field," and sophomore catcher Bailey Zini who "did a great job behind the plate with no passed balls and a pick-off at second with a runner on third to end a big inning."
On Senior Night last week, the Lady Mustangs celebrated with a 19-0 stomping of Little Rock Christian.
"We were hitting well that game," Zini said. "Fourteen of our 19 runs were earned. Junior Rachel Basham had a three-run home run and then a triple."
Rain washed out a non-conference game with Lonoke after one inning last week with the Lady Mustangs leading, 1-0. Another non-conference contest with Perryville was also cancelled because of weather last week.