Arkansas Tech (34-15, 20-12 Great American Conference) dropped three games against Henderson State (34-10, 24-6) on Sunday and Monday in Arkadelphia.
The Golden Suns sit in the fourth spot in GAC standings behind No. 1 Henderson State, followed by Southeastern Oklahoma State and East Central. The Golden Suns have clinched a berth to the GAC Softball Tournament Championships with one conference series — Southern Nazarene — remaining on the schedule.
Henderson State was no match for the Golden Suns in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday, as the Tech outscored the Lady Reddies 9-2. Morgan Vaughan (9-3) earned a win with allowing only two runs on two hits, one walk and seven strikeouts in seven innings pitched.
Both teams remained scoreless until the top of the fifth inning, when Shanna Davidson homered with two outs. Whitney Robinson followed with walk, and then Alex Edinger doubled to left field. A dingle by Jalissa Gum to left field scored Robinson for a 2-0 Tech lead.
The Golden Suns added another run in the top of the sixth inning. Miranda Dupree homered with two outs to give Tech a 3-0 advantage. However, the Lady Reddies managed to score two runs in the bottom of the sixth, starting with a a no-out double to left and followed by a walk, sacrifice bunt and single.
Tech answered with six runs in the top of the seventh to secure a 9-2 win. Robinson lead the inning with a walk, followed by a single to left by Edinger. Although Gum grounded out, she advanced Robinson and Edinger to scoring position.
Samantha Herweck bunted and advanced to second to score Robinson, and then Kambri Hill reached on an error to score Edinger and Herweck. Ashley Savage flied out for two outs in the inning, but back-to-back homers by Dupree and Vaughan gave the Golden Suns a sizeable advantage. Edinger finished the inning with a flyout.
Tables were turned in the second matchup, however, as Henderson State beat Tech 10-1. Victoria Huie (11-5) was given the loss after six runs were scored on eight hits over 1.2 innings of work. Mary Moran allowed one run on one hit in 1.1 innings pitched, while Davidson allowed three runs on one hit in one inning pitched.
Henderson scored one run in the first, five runs in the second, one run in the third and three runs in the fourth. Davidson homered for the Golden Suns in the third inning.
The Lady Reddies continued to overpower the Golden Suns in Monday’s doubleheader, outscoring Tech 5-2 in the third game of the series. Vaughan (9-4) was given the loss, as she allowed five runs on nine hits and five errors.
Henderson State held the Golden Suns in the top of the first and tacked a run to the scoreboard in the bottom of the first. A walk, bunt and single scored one run for the Lady Reddies. Another run was added in the bottom of the second, as a runner who reached on an error later scored off a single for a 2-0 Henderson State lead.
Both teams went scoreless in the third inning, but it was Tech’s turn to add some runs in the top of the fourth. Janie Knowles led off with a single and was advanced to second with a groundout by Hill. A walk by Savage put into runners in scoring position after a passed ball. Vaughan drew a two-out walk, and when Davidson was hit by a pitch, Knowles scored. Robinson walked next to score Savage, giving Tech a 2-2 tie.
Henderson State struck in the bottom of the fifth with three more runs, starting when the first two batters were hit by a pitch. Runs were scored on a wild pitch, groundout and passed ball, giving the Lady Reddies a 5-2 advantage.
Although the Lady Reddies left three on base in bottom of the sixth, the Golden Suns failed to score in the final frame, stranding Alexa Wimberly to end the game.
The Lady Reddies finished the series with a 2-1 win over the Golden Suns. Huie (11-6) was credited the loss, as she allowed two runs on five hits in 5.1 innings pitched. Vaughan struck out one and hit one batter in less than one inning of pitching.
Both teams were held scoreless until the bottom of the third inning, when a Lady Reddie singled and stole second with two outs. A homer drove in two runs for a 2-0 Henderson State lead.
Tech attempted a comeback in the top of the sixth. Vaughan doubled to left field with no outs and was advanced to third on a groundout. With two outs, Dupree singled to left field to score Vaughan. Knowles drew a walk, but Davidson struck out swinging to strand two.
Although Tech managed to hold the Lady Reddies in the bottom of the sixth, the Golden Suns failed to score in their last at bat to lose by one run.
The Golden Suns faced the No. 11 University of Alabama-Huntsville on Wednesday before a final home series against Southern Nazarene on Friday and Saturday to finish GAC play. The GAC tournament will begin Wednesday in Bentonville.