Written and Media by Jaylen Shelton.
The women’s softball St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Championship is being hosted by Fontbonne University May 3-5. The tournament will take place at ABC Park in St. Ann, Missouri. The four teams that will be a part of the championship are Westminster, Greenville, Fontbonne, and Webster.
Greenville will look to repeat as champions after winning the championship in their coach’s, Buddy Foster‘s, first year. Westminster, who has the best record this year in the SLIAC (16-2), will look to win their first championship in 25 years. Fontbonne looks to defend home turf and win a championship for their first-year coach Casey Cromwell. Webster is looking to keep their momentum rolling as they come into the tournament with a six-game win streak.
The Lady Panthers have a record of 15 wins and 3 losses and are currently on a 10-game winning streak. They’re coached by Foster, who’s currently in his second year as their head coach. In those last ten games, Greenville has dominated their opponents, scoring 92 runs and only giving up 24 runs themselves. They have been doing well batting and fielding, and their pitchers aren’t giving up much to the opposing batters. Greenville is second in the conference with 25 home runs and leads the league with 85 stolen bases this season. Junior pitcher Caitlin Opp says, “Our goals going into the conference tournament are to keep our intensity up, play together as a team, and focus on each game one at a time. We know that if we take care of ourselves, we can be successful.” Greenville has a high desire to become back-to-back champions.
The team that Greenville will be playing against in the first round is the number-three seed, Fontbonne University. The Griffins have a record of 13-5 and are coached by Cromwell, who has turned this team around in her first year. Last year the Griffins were winless in conference play. They currently have the third-best record in the SLIAC. Fontbonne and Greenville split the games when they went against each other on April 11. Fontbonne took game one with a score of 5-1, and Greenville responded in the second game and won it 7-6. Fontbonne leads the SLIAC this year in extra base hits, with 13 triples.
The Gorloks were the final team to qualify for the conference championship this year, thanks to ending the season on a six-game winning streak. Webster is coached by Chris Eaton, who’s in his ninth season as their coach. The Gorloks finished third in the conference with 20 home-runs. The Gorloks also have the 2nd best ERA (earned runs allowed) in the SLIAC, which means they play well on both sides. The Gorloks finished the season with a record of 12 wins and 6 losses and will play against Westminster in the tournament.
Westminister: the team that finished with the best record in the SLIAC. They had a record of 16 wins and only two losses, which both came from Greenville. They’re the number-one seed in the tournament and are coached by Joe Henderson, who’s in his fifth year as head coach. Westminster has been trying to win the first SLIAC championship since 1993, a 25-year drought. The Bluejays have a conference lead with 222 runs and 78 strikeouts. This means that they get a lot of hits and eventually wear down the opposing pitcher. Westminster will play Fontbonne, who they swept in the regular season series, in the first round.
Going into the SLIAC tournament, these teams look to add another conference championship to their collection. Who will win it all? Will it be the teams who are going into the tournament with a lot of momentum (Greenville and Webster). Will it be the team that’s had the best record in the SLIAC all season long (Westminster)? Or will it be the team that went from being winless last year to having the third-best record in conference this year (Fontbonne)? Well, we will find out that answer during the conference tournament.