Down the home stretch


Less than a week away from the men’s and women’s Great American Conference golf tournament championship, all the spring sports are down the home stretch for seeding in the GAC Tournament.

The Natural State Golf Classic is supposed to be a 36-hole event. But when Harding and No. 47 Southeastern Oklahoma State University both had two-round scores of 583, it became a 37-hole event that the Bisons won in a playoff. Southeastern led Harding by nine strokes with only four holes to play, but a couple of bad holes for the Savage Storm and two key birdie putts for Harding — one by Lucas Collins on the 16th hole and a 20-foot putt by Brad Lamb on 18 — knotted the score. To break the tie, the two teams went back to the par-5, 545-yard first hole. Each member of the two teams played the hole, and the best four scores for each team made up the team score. Harding had all five of its members available to play, but Southeastern had only four after team member Coleman Caldwell had withdrawn from the tournament on the eighth hole after suffering an injury. With nerves apparent, only one player birdied the hole, Southeastern’s Jeff Hunter, who was the tournament’s individual medalist. But after eight of the nine players finished the hole, Southeastern had a team score of 22, and Harding had a score of 20 with Nathan Kannenberg staring down a two-foot putt to win it. He made it, and Harding had its second tournament title of the 2013-14 season in the 11-team event.

“It was the most exciting golf I’ve been a part of,” head coach Dustin Howell said. It was the eighth time Harding had hosted the Natural State Golf Classic at the Red Apple Inn and Country Club and its first victory. Harding had four players finish in the top 10. Collins, Kannenberg and Alex Williamson all shot 4-over 146 to tie for fourth. Jordan Perry tied for eighth at 5-over 147, and Lamb tied for 29th at 13-over 155. However, Lamb shot 2-over 73, tied for Harding’s second-best score in the second round. Brittany Marquez led the Lady Bisons in the tournament, finishing tied for 18th as the team finished 10th.

Elsewhere …

Baseball: Harding fell in the series opener at Southwestern Oklahoma on Friday 8-2 but bounced back to win the series Saturday with a sweep as the Bisons won 9-2 and 10-7. In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Erin McCarver and Noah Chandler both had four-hit games. McCarver was 4-for-6 with two runs and an RBI, his second four-hit game of the season. Chandler was 4-for-5 with a run and two RBI. It was Chandler’s first four-hit game as a Bison. Each of the first six hitters in Harding’s lineup had two hits or more. The hits kept coming in game two as five Harding players had multi-hit games, including Matt Calhoun, who was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and his 10th double of the season. A two-run double by Chandler in the first gave Harding a 2-0 lead. Southwestern answered with a run in the first and another to tie the game in the third. But the Bisons took the lead for good with a run on Davis Richardson’s RBI single in the fourth and a six-run fifth inning that included an RBI double from Guerra and a run-scoring single from Richardson. Logan Holthaus got the win in game one, and Collin Campbell got the win in game two.

Softball: Harding picked up its first series sweep this past weekend. The Lady Bisons won 3-0 and 7-3 on Friday against Southwestern Oklahoma and then won 4-1 and 10-2 on Saturday. The Lady Bisons had seven hits in game one, led by Courtney Derrick who had three. Starter Amber Rollins went the distance to get her first shutout of the season and the Lady Bisons second shutout this season. In game two, Harding scored six runs on six hits in the sixth inning. Marley Edwards knocked in Kimmy Hendricks for the first run. Then Amanda Berdon hit a two-run homerun to give the Lady Bisons the lead. Brooklynn Moon and Carolyn Clayton knocked in the other two Harding runs. In the third game, Clayton got things going for Lady Bisons in the first with two RBI. The Lady Bisons scored again in the fourth inning, and Edwards knocked in Harding’s fourth run in the fifth after Hendricks tripled to right center field. In the final game of the series, Harding had a season-high five doubles and had 15 hits. It was the third time this season Harding has had 15 or more hits in a game. Six different Harding players had multiple hits. Courtney Chambers led the Lady Bisons going 3-for-3.

Men’s tennis: Harding went 1-2 on the week. The Bisons defeated LeMoyne-Owen College 9-0 but fell to Southeastern Oklahoma 6-3. Mathaus Spiering and Jon Mark Rowden won both singles matches this past week. Spiering defeated Southeastern Oklahoma’s Alberto Blesa, who was ranked No. 13, 7-6, 3-6 and 11-9. It was Spiering’s fifth-straight singles victory. He improved to 15-2 overall, 10-1 in dual matches, and 6-1 against regionally ranked opponents.

Women’s tennis: Harding won both of its GAC matches this week. The Lady Bisons upset No. 29 Arkansas Tech University on Friday 6-3 and then defeated Southeastern Oklahoma on Saturday 8-1. In its match against Arkansas Tech, Harding trailed 2-1 after doubles but got five singles wins for the team victory, snapping a four-match Arkansas Tech winning streak. It was the third victory against a nationally ranked team in program history and the highest-ranked team Harding has defeated. In the match against Southeastern Oklahoma, Harding won all three doubles matches for the eighth time this season.

This week’s schedule: (Home games in bold)
Tues., April 8
Men’s and women’s golf at Henderson State Invitational, 8 a.m.
Men’s and women’s tennis at Ouachita Baptist University, 2 p.m.
Softball doubleheader at Arkansas Tech University, 4 p.m.

Thurs., April 10
Men’s and women’s tennis vs. University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, 1:30 p.m.

Fri., April 11
Baseball vs. Henderson State University, 3 p.m.

Sat., April 12
Baseball doubleheader vs. Henderson State University, noon
Softball doubleheader at Henderson State University, 1 p.m.
Men’s and women’s tennis at East Central University, 9 a.m.
Men’s and women’s track at University of Arkansas at Little Rock Open, TBA

Sun., April 13
Softball doubleheader at Henderson State University, 1 p.m.
Men’s and women’s golf at GAC Tournament, TBA

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