Lady Buffs claim LSC tournament championship

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Lady Buffs claim LSC tournament championship

Russell Sanderson

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The West Texas A&M Lady Buffs softball team won the Lone Star Conference Tournament Championship this past week. The tournament win marks the first time that the Lady Buffs have ever won the conference tournament. They now go into the NCAA postseason as the LSC’s automatic bid. The Lady Buffs are also the top team in the South Central Region and, as a result, will host the NCAA regional tournament. The regional tournament will be held May 8-10. The Lady Buffs will first face the Tarleton TexAnns, a team the Lady Buffs were supposed to face earlier in the season, but the series was canceled due to weather concerns.


The Lady Buffs’ first game of the LSC tournament was against the Cameron Aggies. The Lady Buffs’ bats came alive in the game, scoring 10 runs in the first four innings. The efforts were spearheaded by homeruns from Renee Erwin, Ashley Hardin and Kaisha Dacosin and a dominant performance on the mound by pitcher Rita Hokianga. Hokianga had nine strikeouts and went the complete game. The only mishap by Hokianga was a homerun in the fifth, but she quickly shrugged it off and completed the game. Hokianga said she was hitting her spots, and that worked for her.


“I think just hitting my spots and my changeup was on point tonight, except for the one she hit over,” Hokianga said. “I think it was just mainly hitting my spots and making sure I believe in my catcher and what she calls.”


Hokianga also complemented the defense behind her, saying that they always step up and play well.


“Oh yeah, they always step up,” Hokianga said. “The only time we make errors is when we have miscommunication.”


Renee Erwin also had a big game for the Lady Buffs, going 2 for 3 and hitting her homerun number 23 for the season. Erwin said she thought the team had a great outing overall after the last series with Texas Women’s where the team played poorly and dropped three games out of four to the Pioneers.


“Overall, I thought we came out really strong,” Erwin said. “Coming off the past weekend that we had wasn’t too hot. Last weekend we got punched in the mouth, and I guess we got back up and punched them in the mouth. I think all around the team came together and we really fought hard and we knew coming into the game we were going to have to give it our all against them.”


In the LSC tournament finals, the Lady Buffs had to face a familiar foe in the Texas Women’s Pioneers. The weekend before the tournament, WT faced TWU in a four-game series, with TWU taking three of the four games, nearly derailing the hopes of the Lady Buffs hosting the NCAA postseason. The Lady Buffs responded to the beating they took from TWU and won the game 9-6, claiming their first ever LSC conference tournament championship. Head coach Kevin Blaskowski summed up what it meant to win the tournament after the game.


“It was a great day,” Blaskowski said. “You know, we talked about making sure we came out and defended our turf. We came out to claim a trophy we haven’t claimed in a while, an LSC tournament championship. We’ve come here three years in a row, let it slip away a couple of times, and we wanted to make sure that today we brought it home, and I couldn’t be prouder of the effort.”


During the awards ceremony after the game, Kaisha Dacosin was named the Lone Star Conference tournament MVP after hitting two homeruns and driving in three runs. Dacosin said winning the award meant a lot to her, but that it was truly a team effort.


“It means a lot to me because my teammates always have my back and make me better,” Dacosin said. “Our whole team came out this weekend and showed up this weekend and came to work. Both games we came together and figured stuff out from last weekend because we had a bad weekend. We came to work this weekend.”


Now that the conference tournament is over, the Lady Buffs will go on to the NCAA regional tournament. They will be hosting the tournament, and if they win the regional, they will go on to the super regional. The Lady Buffs region consists of three other LSC teams. Those teams are Cameron, Tarleton State and Angelo State. Blaskowski said that the regional is essentially another LSC tournament.


“It’s kind of interesting that the top seeded team ends up with three other teams from their conference in the regional tournament,” Blaskowski said. “That’s the way it is and it should be a great tournament. I mean, Cameron and Angelo are going to play for like the sixth time in a row in the last three weeks. That will be an interesting first round game. We get Tarleton and we haven’t played them yet this year. That’s kind of interesting matchup for us.”


Blaskowski also said that this is the first time that he can remember where a canceled game from earlier on in the season would effect the postseason.


“It would be the first time that we’ll end up playing someone that we had a series canceled with,” Blaskowski said. “It’s kind of interesting. It’s obviously something that we need to look at and address somewhere down the road, but hopefully it doesn’t become too big a part of the weekend.”


The Lady Buffs will take on the Tarleton State TexAnns on May 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Schaeffer Park.