Southeast softball stretches streak to 15 games

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Redhawks endured a long rain delay but closed their regular season with an 8-7 win at TSU.

The Southeast Missouri State softball team waited out a rain delay of nearly three hours to end the regular season with one of the program's longest winning streaks.

Southeast slipped past host Tennessee State 8-7 on Sunday to complete a three-game Ohio Valley Conference sweep.

The Redhawks posted their 15th straight victory, the third-longest streak in school history.

"I couldn't be prouder of the girls," Southeast coach Lana Richmond said.

Southeast turned around its season as the Redhawks reeled off their winning streak following an 11-game losing skid.

"The girls just hung in there," Richmond said.

Southeast (27-19, 16-8) finished second in the nine-team OVC, meaning the Redhawks earn a bye for the first round of the OVC tournament that begins Thursday in Jacksonville, Ala.

"Getting the bye is huge," Richmond said.

Richmond, the winningest softball coach in OVC history who is in her 27th season, led Southeast to five straight OVC titles from 1995 through 1999.

Southeast missed making the OVC tournament the past two years, but with just one senior, Richmond believes the Redhawks are back on track.

"The majority of the team is freshmen and sophomores," Richmond said. "I'm excited about the future of the program."

Freshman ace Giana Zimmerman notched her 10th straight win Sunday as she recorded her 20th complete game in 24 starts.

Zimmerman (17-8) allowed six hits and four earned runs. She struck out seven and walked seven.

Southeast had 11 hits. Junior Jennifer Vasquez went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, while freshman Renee Kertz, freshman Shelby Stein and sophomore Nicole Troncoso all added two hits. Junior Elise Sperakos delivered two RBIs.

Much of the contest was played in a steady drizzle, but when the rain intensified pay was halted in the bottom of the fifth inning with the score tied 5-5.

Play resumed 2 hours, 45 minutes later. The Redhawks scored three runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead for good.

As the Redhawks prepare for the OVC tournament, they have a chance to match the 1998 squad that won 16 straight for the second-longest streak in school history. No. 1 is the 1996 team that began the season 32-0.

"That was quite a run, and this is a quite a run," Richmond said.

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