This coming weekend, the University of Dallas softball team heads to Texas Lutheran University (TLU) to take on Schreiner University in the first round of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) tournament.
The Crusaders face a difficult road in their playoff journey. This season, the Crusaders fell at home against Schreiner three games to one.
History is also not on the Crusaders’ side. In their last four SCAC tournaments, they have only earned a first round win once.
Nevertheless, an even larger hurdle lies ahead. Should they manage to defy history and win their second consecutive first round game in two years, mighty Texas Lutheran stands waiting.
This season, the Crusaders were swept by TLU behind the powerful one-two punch: Maitlin Raycroft and Amanda Lochte. In game two, Raycroft threw her seventh no-hitter of the season.
One area in which the Crusaders excelled this season was in stolen bases. UD ended the season ranked second with 99 stolen bases in the SCAC.
The Crusaders’ running game suffered a blow on Sunday, however.
All-time steals leader, senior outfielder Avery Finch, who has 100 career stolen bases and is second on the team this season with 17, sustained an injury in the first inning of their final home game against Austin College.
She may not be ready to return for the SCAC tournament, and if she is not ready to go, the Crusaders will suffer a tremendous loss.
Further hardships face the Crusaders in their pitching. Freshman pitcher Lauren Galvan has been a reliable option for the team the second half of the season. She has won all of her last three starts, won four games and picked up a save in her last six appearances.
Even in the majors, however, no team, no matter how strong, can live on just one good pitcher.
One area that may benefit the Crusaders as they enter the tournament is their streaky performance this season. UD has won and lost in bunches this season, but they are on a positive run over their last two series, winning five of their last six games. With any luck, they will be able to carry that momentum into their first round game against Schreiner.