The baseball, softball and track teams are wrapping up their regular seasons this week. All three sports will have conference tournaments next week.
After winning the Great American Conference regular season, the women’s tennis team won its first GAC Tournament title on Saturday. After a first round bye, the Lady Bisons defeated East Central Oklahoma in the semifinals 5-2 to advance to the championship. After playing a 6-3 match two weeks earlier in Russellville, Ark., that lasted more than four hours, the Lady Bisons (17-4) and Arkansas Tech battled for nearly that length in time to determine who would claim the conference’s first-ever automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Just like their regular-season contest, the Golden Suns gained a 2-1 lead from the doubles contests. The Lady Bisons scored the first three singles victory to take a 4-2 advantage, but they did not come easily as the final five singles matches went the full three sets. The Lady Bisons guaranteed themselves a spot in the field of seven at the NCAA Central Region Tournament. They will find out where and whom they play on the NCAA Selection Show, set to stream on NCAA.com at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29. The Harding men’s tennis team fell in the first round to East Central Oklahoma 5-2. Mathaus Spiering got his 19th victory of the season, the most by a Harding tennis player since Thomas Alm won 19 in 1998-99. Spiering also won 14 dual matches at No. 1 singles, the most by a Bison at No. 1 singles since Ernesto Tovar won 15 in 1991.
Baseball: The Bisons dropped the first game of the series against Ouachita Baptist in a pitchers dual 2-0 but bounced back to sweep the Tigers on Saturday, winning 10-7 and 10-0. In the sweep, Harding’s Trent Wooldridge went 8-8 with three RBI. Wooldridge set a new GAC record with six hits in the first game on Saturday. Logan Holthaus got the win in game one as Andrew Fiddler had the save. Collin Campbell pitched his second-straight shutout win in game two. He gave up five hits and struck out seven.
Softball: Harding went 3-1 this week as they hosted Ouachita Baptist this past weekend. The Lady Bisons dropped the first game of the series 1-0 in nine innings but won the last three. In the pitchers dual in game one, Amber Rollins struck out 15 batters, which broke her previous GAC record set earlier this season. Kinsey Beck led Harding at plate in the series, batting .471. Beck had eight hits, four of them doubles, and had four RBI. She also had four runs.
Men’s track and field: Two NCAA provisional efforts, two event victories, and one school record were set by the men’s team Saturday at the UCA Open, hosted by the University of Central Arkansas at Bill Stephens Track. The 4×400 relay team of Kevin Naceanceno, Trevor Holloway, Dillon Bagwell and Landon Belcher placed fifth in an NCAA provisional time of 3 minutes, 11.85 seconds. It was the top time of the season for the team and ranks as the 13th-fastest 4×400-meter relay time this season in NCAA II. The team’s two event victories both came in the field events. Josh Syrotchen won the discus with a throw of 169 feet, 2 inches, breaking the 17-year-old school record of 164-04 set by Bryan Rampey in 1997. His mark also ranks 13th in NCAA II this season. Jacob McDonald recorded his third career event victory by winning the hammer throw with a mark of 155-03.
Women’s track and field: Lady Bison Rachael Domeyer broke her own school record in the javelin and placed second in the event with a throw of 134 feet, 10 inches on Saturday at the UCA Open. Domeyer’s throw ranks 30th in NCAA II this season. Amber Priest recorded her first career outdoor event victory Saturday by winning the steeplechase in 11 minutes, 58.32 seconds, and Sarah Shepherd placed second in 12:20.27. Amber Webb won the 5,000 meters on Friday in 17:44.71.
Men’s golf: Lucas Collins tied the best round of his career with a 3-under 69 in the final round of the GAC Tournament. Collins tied for sixth overall, earned All-Tournament honors and led the Bisons to a sixth-place finish in the 11-team event. Harding shot 300 in Sunday’s first round. The second round was rained out Monday, so the teams played 36 holes on Tuesday. The team struggled to a 306 in round two but shot 290 in the final round, the best single-round score by a Harding team in a conference tournament in the last nine years. The team finished at 896, the third-best 54-hole score ever by a Harding golf team and the best ever in a conference tournament.
Women’s golf: Brittany Marquez fired the best 54-hole score in the nine-year history of the Lady Bison golf program and finished second at the GAC Championship on Tuesday at Hot Springs Country Club. Marquez finished at 11-over 227, breaking the previous record of 228 set by Emily Plyler. Marquez finished just one stroke back of tournament champion Rebecka Surtevall. It marked the third consecutive season that a Harding women’s golfer placed second at the GAC Championship.
This week’s schedule: (Home games in bold)
Tuesday, April 22
- Softball doubleheader at Delta State, 2 p.m.
- Baseball at Southern Arkansas, 3 p.m.
Friday, April 25
- Baseball vs. Arkansas Tech, 3 p.m.
- Men’s and women’s track at Arkansas State, TBA
Saturday, April 26
- Baseball doubleheader vs. Arkansas Tech, 12 p.m.
- Men’s and women’s track at Arkansas State, TBA
Remember to check HardingSports.com for all the latest information on your Bisons and Lady Bisons.
Nathan Looney, assistant sports information director