When the Region IX softball tournament begins Friday in Lamar, Colorado, the Western Nebraska Community College softball team will be entering the four-team, double elimination tournament with nothing to lose.
The Cougar women enter the tourney as the fourth-seed and will open up against No. 1 seed Lamar Community College at 11 a.m. on Friday. No. 2 Trinidad State Junior College and No. 3 Otero Junior College will battle at 2 p.m. on Friday. A win in the first-round moves the Cougars into a 5 p.m. game on Friday, while a loss sends them to an 8 p.m. game. The championship is slated for Saturday afternoon with an if-necessary game on Sunday.
Sophomore Alyssa Guymon said anything can happen in the tournament this season.
“Entering as the fourth seed, we have nothing to lose,” she said. “All the pressure is on the higher seed, because they are expected to beat us. So, we just have to play like we know how, and put the pressure on them.”
The Cougars enter the tournament with a 20-30 record while Lamar is 35-16. WNCC lost all six conference games to Lamar this season. The last time the two teams met, WNCC fell 6-4.
“Lamar is a good team, but if we come out with a lot of energy and play routine softball then it will be a good game,” Guymon said. “We just have to worry about what we do and everything will end up how it’s supposed to.”
WNCC has showed signs this season that they compete with anyone. The Cougars have won three of their last four conference games. WNCC ended the regular season splitting with Otero Junior College, falling 11-2 on Sunday before coming back to get the split in the doubleheader 10-9 in the second game.
“In order to win at the conference tournament, we just need to go out and have fun,” Guymon said. “We need to play like we know how, and if we do that, it could be an exciting weekend.”
WNCC has plenty of fire power to pull off the program’s seventh regional title. The Cougars have hit the most home runs of the four tournament teams with 46. Trinidad State has hit 45, while Lamar has slammed 43. Otero has hit 31 home runs.
Michaela Kelly has hit 14 home runs this season and leads the team in RBIs with 51. Brooke Doumer has seven homers, including a pair of grand slams last week. Doumer also has 37 RBIs, 46 runs scored, and 15 doubles.Next in line is Gabby Loya and Reagan Solomon with six home runs followed by Emma McMillan with five.
WNCC enters regionals with a team batting average of .324 while allowing the opponents have batted .372 this season. Madi Jackson leads the team with a .404 batting average followed by McMillan at .399, Kelly at .388, and Doumer at .352.
Guymon said there is plenty of potential with this team if they play to their abilities.
“We have shown how good we can be throughout the season in several different games,” she said. “So, if we play with the potential we have, then we will win some ball games.”
That is the key, WNCC has to play like they have in the 20 wins this season. Against Trinidad, WNCC is 4-2 having scored 49 runs, including taking a doubleheader from the Trojans 18-13 and 10-6. Against Otero, the Cougars are 3-3 having scored 44 runs.
That means timely hitting and strong defense is the key in picking up wins at the regional tournament. The winner of the Region IX tournament will face the Region 6 winner (Kansas region) May 9-10.
Guymon said the team is excited to see what they can do.
“We are excited for this weekend,” she said. “We are going to leave it all out on the field.”