Redhawks grab berth in OVC tournament

Sunday, May 8, 2005

The Southeast Missouri State softball team has bounced back after a nine-game losing streak to clinch a spot in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.

Southeast swept a double-header from visiting Austin Peay Saturday, rolling 5-1 and 4-0 to extend its winning streak to three heading into today's 1 p.m. regular-season finale against the Governors.

The Redhawks, who evened their overall record at 25-25 and also leveled their OVC mark at 13-13, moved into sole possession of fifth place in the 10-team conference. The top six finishers qualify for the OVC Tournament. Southeast can end up no worse than tied for fifth, and will be at least the No. 6 tourney seed.

"We're glad to clinch a spot in the tournament, and it's nice to bounce back with three very good games in a row after losing nine straight," said Southeast coach Lana Richmond, whose squad began a four-game homestand with Friday's 3-1 win over Eastern Illinois.

Added Richmond of Saturday's sweep: "We really hit the ball well, and we got two standout performances on the mound."

In the opener, senior Amy Fahnestock (14-13) carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and settled for a four-hitter. She struck out one and walked one.

In the nightcap, freshman Elaine Fisher (7-5) continued her stellar mound work during the second half of the season by hurling a three-hit shutout with five strikeouts and no walks. In OVC play, Fisher is 5-2, and her 0.39 earned run average leads the league.

"Elaine came through with another standout performance on the mound," Richmond said. "I can't say enough about the progress she has made, and I give a lot of credit to our pitching coach, Jeannine Soncini, who is a former collegiate pitcher."

Southeast had 18 hits in the doubleheader -- nine in each game -- including three home runs and seven doubles. The Redhawks' have 31 home runs this year to break the school's single-season record, which had been 29.

Lindsay Pickering and Lyndsey Webb each had three hits on the day to lead the Redhawks.

Pickering belted her first home run of the season in the opener, as did Charlene Ramirez, who also doubled and drove in three runs. Freshman Megan McDonald, a Central High School product, got her seventh homer of the year in the nightcap.

With a spot in the conference tournament secured, the Redhawks want to close the regular season in style and also send their three seniors out with a victory in their final home appearance.

The three seniors, who will be honored before today's game with Austin Peay (16-37, 9-15), are Kelly Birk, Fahnestock and Victoria Torrez.

"They've all been a big part of our program and we would love to send them out with a win," Richmond said. "Kelly has been a four-year starter and has had a great career, while Amy and Victoria came in two years ago from junior college.

"We definitely want to finish strong, and with a win we can close out the regular season with a winning record, which would be big."

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