Tourney debuts in Vienna

VIENNA – Defending Great Midwest Athletic Conference regular season and tournament champion Trevecca Nazarene University is scheduled to begin its title defense at 10 a.m. today at Jackson Park.

The top-seeded Trojans (32-10) of sixth-year head coach Ben Tyree were riding a nine-game winning streak prior to the final two doubleheaders of the regular season. Despite splitting those twinbills against No. 2 seed Kentucky Wesleyan (23-17) and No. 3 seed Cedarville (28-13), TNU enters the fray as the team to beat and will go up against eighth-seeded Ursuline (10-23).

The Trojans have the best team earned run average (2.15) in the G-MAC and are led by 13-game winner Haley Fagan. Lindsey Stephens (.391) and Kelsey Kemp (.379) pace the team in batting average. Kemp has been successful on 18 of 20 stolen base attempts this year and teammate Ansley Brantley is 23 of 25 in that department.

Originally scheduled to play at 10 a.m. today in another quarterfinal was No. 4 Alderson-Broaddus (21-25) and No. 5 Davis & Elkins (17-28). However, that game has been moved to noon today because of field condition problems. Battler Kylee Gaspar leads the conference with 12 home runs.

The double elimination tournament was scheduled to continue at noon with the final pair of quarterfinal showdowns, but host and No. 7 seed Ohio Valley University (14-30) now will square off at 2 p.m. against No. 2 Kentucky Wesleyan (23-17). At 4 p.m., third-seeded Cedarville (28-13) takes on Salem International (16-26). Kelsey Chapman of Cedarville has a conference-high 47 runs-batted-in and the Tigers’ Katie Mongold has posted a league best .427 average.

Although eight games were scheduled for today, the conference will make a decision prior to the completion of the A-B/D&E contest on games 5-8.

Host OVU and head coach Rob Graham faced Kentucky Wesleyan twice during the regular season, but it didn’t go well as the Fighting Scots suffered 12-2 and 10-1 setbacks.

“My plan is to upset KW,” said Graham, who noted Mother Nature has caused OVU problems each of the past three days.

“It’s been too wet. All we’ve been doing is hitting. It’s just been too wet to get on the field.”

Ohio Valley has been led offensively this spring by Chanel Bourchand’s .364 batting average and Donna O’Bryant’s 25 runs-batted-in. Coach Graham said left-hander Kristine Brown (9-14, 3.65 ERA) will be on the mound.

“She’s going to pitch. That’s our bread and butter right now,” Graham added. “We have to play better defense and try to outhit everybody.

“We’ve seen all the teams and everyone is beatable. I think it’s going to come down to who can get hot and get on a roll.”