LAS CRUCES, N.M. – CSU Bakersfield's softball team has returned to the Western Athletic Conference Tournament with the mission of defending its 2016 championship. The Roadrunners (11-31, 4-11) are the fifth seed in the tournament, but CSUB has played some of its best softball heading into the WAC championship, a double elimination tournament that runs from May 11-13.
“We're excited for the weekend,” said Crissy Buck-Ziegler, Head Coach of the ‘Runners. “It's anyone's tournament. We just want to go out and play one pitch at a time.”
The ‘Runners have a first-round matchup against the Kangaroos of UMKC. The 2017 tourney marks the third-straight WAC Tournament in which the two teams will meet in the opening game. The ‘Roos hold the edge this season after taking a series sweep in Bakersfield a month ago, but the ‘Runners have defeated UMKC in each of the last two WAC Tournament meetings.
UMKC (15-36, 5-10 WAC) is the four seed in the tournament and is coming to New Mexico having lost six of its last seven games. The ‘Roos have three student-athletes batting over .300 on the year including team-leader Kendra Leach (.388). In the circle, UMKC does not have a pitcher with an ERA under 5.00. Left-handed pitcher Lynsey Conner leads the ‘Roos with 20 starts this year.
In WAC play, sophomore Chris Hipa has led the ‘Runners from the plate with a .442 clip and shares the team lead with Kaylynn Burt at seven RBI. This season, senior Lyndsay Klimenko and junior Summer Evans have shared starts almost equally and both will likely see time in the circle this week.
The 2017 WAC Tournament begins Thursday, May 11, with CSUB and UMKC competing at 10 a.m. (PT). The winner of that game will play host and top-seeded New Mexico State at 3 p.m. while the loser will face the loser of the No.2/No.3 matchup in an elimination game at 5:30 p.m.
Every game of the WAC Tournament will be streamed live via the WAC Digital Network. Links to live stats and the WDN can be found at the Tournament Central page.