GAC Championships begin Thursday
RUSSELLVILLE — With the 2016 Great American Conference softball regular season complete, the attention shifts to the GAC Championships, set to begin on Thursday from the Tiger Athletic Complex. The tournament starts on Thursday with eight scheduled games. The Championships open with No. 3 Southeastern Oklahoma State facing No. 6 Henderson State, at 10 a.m. At noon, No. 2 Southern Arkansas faces No. 7 East Central in a meeting of the past two GAC Championship winners. At 2 p.m., regular-season champion Arkansas Tech takes on No. 8 Southern Nazarene. Game four, at 4 p.m., features No. 4 Harding and No. 5 Arkansas-Monticello. The second half of day one features two winner’s bracket games at the Tiger Athletic Complex and two loser’s bracket games from Memorial Park. Winners from games one and two play at 6 p.m. followed by a contest between the winners from games three and four. All contests from the Tiger Athletic Complex will stream on the GAC Sports Network. The GAC Sports Network will not carry the two Memorial Park games. For complete coverage and additional information, visit Championship Central.
Henderson State extends lead
HOT SPRINGS — Henderson State recorded the lowest 18-hole team score in Great American Conference Men’s Golf Championship history, extended its lead and moved closer to a third straight title on Monday from Hot Springs Country Club. The Reddies combined for a team score of 7-under-par 281, six strokes better than any posted score in the previous four GAC Championship events. After an even-par opening nine holes. Brice Howard scorched the back nine, posting five birdies against no bogeys to card a 5-under 67. He matched the low round of the tournament and the second-best round in GAC Championship history. He moved to 6-under par and second place in the individual standings. Drew Greenwood added a 3-under-par round to climb into a tie for seventh. Mauricio Lira’s two-round total of even-par 144 placed the First-Team All-GAC golfer in a tie for seventh place.
A-State climbs to second
MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. — Arkansas State climbed two spots in the Sun Belt Conference Championship standings Monday, moving up to second place after shooting a second-round 278 that is currently the lowest single-round score of the tournament among all 11 competing teams. The Red Wolves finished yesterday’s opening round in fourth place with a 289 posted at the Raven Golf Club, but moved past Troy and Texas State today by matching their fourth-lowest score of the season. A-State, which has combined 1-under-par 567 total, will enter Tuesday’s third round six strokes behind first-place Georgia State. The Sun Belt Conference Championship will feature one more round of stroke play tomorrow, and the top four teams in the standings will advance to match play Wednesday. Currently following Georgia State (561) and A-State (567) in the standings are Texas State (569) and Troy (572). UT Arlington stands fifth with a 575. The Red Wolves saw three players lower their score in the second round to improve their individual standing, including Andrew Huseman with a season-tying 66.
Austrian ties for third at SAA championship
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Hendrix College junior Kevin Austrian tied for third with a three-round score of 214 at the Southern Athletic Association Men’s Golf Championships at Old Fort Golf Club on Sunday. Austrian, from Austin, Texas, made seven pars and seven birdies — including on the last two holes, to shoot -2 70 in the final round. Austrian shot an even par in each of the first two rounds. He finished five shots behind individual medalist Kyle Shealy from Oglethorpe. The Warriors finished Sunday with a team score of 312. Oglethorpe won the team title with a three-round score of 847. They were followed by Berry (869), Rhodes (870), Centre (874), Birmingham-Southern (883), Sewanee (901), Millsaps (902) and Hendrix (952).
Golden Suns move into lead
HOT SPRINGS — Arkansas Tech, the defending Great American Conference Womens’s Golf Champions, improved its team score by 10 shots from Sunday to move into first place after two rounds of the 2016 GAC Championships from Hot Springs Country Club. Southern Nazarene’s Marion Broedys recorded her second-straight round of 3-over-par 75 to hold a two-shot lead in the individual race. Following an opening round that saw only one member of the Golden Suns break 80, all four scoring players shot in the 70s. Anna Frandsen, the GAC Player and Freshman of the Year, along with Pia Nunbhakdi and Caroline Fredensborg shot rounds of 76 to led the way. Avery Struck added a 79 as all five Golden Suns finished the day inside the top 13. Jessica Sachs, the first-round leader, shot an 80 to place fifth after the two rounds.
Trojans sweeps Georgia Southern
STATESBORO, Ga. – It took nearly four hours, but Little Rock baseball (20-18, 13-8 Sun Belt) took its fifth Sun Belt series win with a 17-8 win over Georgia Southern (24-17, 10-11 Sun Belt) on Sunday afternoon at J.I. Clements Stadium in Statesboro. The Trojans’ win gives them 13 conference victories for the season, tying for the second-most in program history. Nik Gifford had the hot bat for Little Rock as he ended the day 4 for 5 with a home run and four RBIs. Dalton Thomas went 2 for 6 with a home run, five RBIs and two runs. The nation’s leading hitter, Ryan Scott, went 2 for 4 with a home run, three RBIs, two runs and two walks.
Demons rally past Bears, win series
CONWAY — The Northwestern State Demons answered Central Arkansas’ late rally with one of their own Sunday afternoon to claim a 7-5 victory in 10 innings in the Southland Conference series finale at Bear Stadium. The Bears (16-22, 7-11) came back from a 5-3 deficit with two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to prolong the game. But the Demons (20-18, 11-10) plated two runs in the top of the 10th inning and the Bears could not match it in the bottom of the inning, despite putting two runners on base with two outs. NSU reliever Devin Bear then forced a fielder’s choice for the final out. UCA’s top four hitters, Tyler Langley, Brooks Balisterri, Chris Townsend and Brandon Montalvo, combined to go 10 for 18. Balisterri, a junior shortstop from Benton, and Townsend, a senior second baseman Batesville, Miss., had three hits each, with Townsend getting two RBI and Balisterri scoring twice. However, the remainder of the lineup had just one hit, an infield single by freshman Hunter Strong in the second inning.
Season ends for Warriors
CONWAY — The Hendrix College 2016 campaign came to an end Sunday afternoon with a 9-4 loss to Rhodes College in the Southern Athletic Association Tournament at Warrior Field. The Warriors finished the season with at 23-19, tying the program for wins with the 2014 squad. Rhodes improves to 25-18 and will face Birmingham-Southern or Berry in the SAA Tournament finals series. Sunday was the final game for five Warrior pitchers - Cannon Schrank, Daniel Imbro, Kyle Teachout, Brian Commerford and Will Nichol, who was named to the All-Tournament Team for his performance in the win over Centre on Friday. Matthew Lillard drove in two runs on a walk and a sac fly. Drew Judson also recorded two hits for his 21st multiple-hit game of the year. He also extended his hitting streak to eight games. Sophomore catcher Justin Robison had two hits, including a triple. Freshman Jorge Leon finished with two hits. Freshman starter Taylor Baker (2-2) suffered the loss for the Warriors.