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ASU team eyeing NCSA title

ASU's softball team will compete in the National Club Softball Association (NCSA) tournament, starting today with a 10 a.m. contest against Sacred Heart. Team members are (from left): front row -- Jerri Mathis of Jonesboro, Bailey Bradley of Imboden, Mackenzie Powers of Paragould, Madison Carr of Armorel and Kiana Cole of Paragould. Second row --coach Chris Powers, Erin Eckert of Cabot, Sabrina Luttrell of Armorel, Shea Cothren of Paragould, Rachel Hinson of Vilonia, Chloe Vaught of Morrilton and Mabry Watson of Marion; back -- coaches Todd Clifford and Keith Hinson.

Courtesy photo

For the Daily Press

JONESBORO -- Arkansas State's softball team will pursue a national title for the fifth consecutive time at the 2017 National Club Softball Association (NCSA), this weekend at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus, Ga.

The World Series will begin today with pool play. After the conclusion of pool play, teams will be re-seeded and the double-elimination portion of the tournament will begin Saturday and continue until a national champion is declared on Sunday.

Fourth-seeded Arkansas State, one of only two university programs in the nation making a fifth consecutive appearance in the national championship, will face 12-seeded Sacred Heart at 10 a.m. to open pool play, followed by a game with Florida State at 1 p.m. and defending champion James Madison at 4 p.m.

ASU, winner of the Mid-America-East Conference for the fifth straight year, is undefeated in league play with a 12-0 mark and stands 24-8 overall. The Red Wolves, ranked second nationally, participate in a conference with the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, St. Louis University, Maryville University and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

"We've really had great contribution from everyone up and down the lineup," said head coach Chris Powers, who is in his 19th season. "That's what makes this team so special. I really like the makeup of this team. They've developed into as good as any team I've had since we started the program."

Headlining the roster is veteran pitcher Shea Cothren with an earned run average of 1.88. The senior from Paragould has an 11-3 record on the year and was selected as the NCSA National Pitcher of the Week twice. The Greene County Tech graduate is a first team All-America pick as a pitcher from 2016. Also, freshman Mabry Watson of Marion received honors as NCSA National Player of the Week following the regional playoffs.

"Shea is healthy this year and having another good season," added Powers. "And, for Arkansas State to get both player and pitcher of the week for that weekend is pretty impressive.

"Mabry has a strong bat. She has been somewhat inconsistent at the plate through the year, but had a great weekend at the regionals, including three home runs with 10 RBIs in three games. Sometimes, it takes the younger ones some time to settle in and get comfortable. I really think she is going to have a great World Series. If she does, we are going to be a tough out."

Powers also praised senior Jerri Mathis of Jonesboro who leads the Red Wolves in batting average with .440. She has six doubles, two triples, two home runs and 23 runs batted in.

ASU's roster also includes former GCT standout Mackenzie Powers and freshman Kiana Cole, a graduate of Paragould High School.

"The success of the program is a direct result from the support of the campus recreation department, the university, the local and surrounding communities and all those that volunteer their time," Powers added. "That's what attracts the kids. You have got to have that core support, and we have that here at Arkansas State."