Editor and Contributing Writer
EUNICE, La. – LSU Eunice softball is back in the postseason hunt as the Bengals will face a challenging field in the Region 23 Tournament starting Wednesday with Northwest Mississippi. LSUE opens the four-day, six-team tournament with a 2:30pm contest against the Rangers.
The top two teams to emerge from field featuring five teams in the NJCAA Division II Top 15 will earn bids to the National Tournament later this month as the Gulf District representatives. Joining the eighth-ranked Bengals are No. 4 Jones College, No. 5 Copiah-Lincoln, No. 6 Itawamba, No. 13 Northwest Mississippi, and Northeast Mississippi.
The Bengals enter the postseason with a 32-18 record after navigating the toughest schedule in the nation. The LSUE offense is paced by sophomore Maddie Leal, tops on the team in batting average (.404), hits (65), doubles (19) and on-base percentage (.455).
Freshman Chloe Bennett has carried the load in the circle, sporting a 19-6 record with a 2.89 earned run average. Her 197 strikeouts are ranked ninth nationally and her 19 wins is good for 10th in the country.
Northwest Mississippi comes into the Region 23 Tournament after a 2-2 weekend at the MACCC State Tournament, qualifying as the number five seed for the Region 23 bracket. The Rangers are 31-13 on the campaign, featuring an offense ranked 15th in home runs (50) in NJCAA Division II. McKaylee Polk leads Northwest Mississippi with 18 home runs, ranking fifth national in that category. The freshman is also tops on the team in batting average (.447), doubles (17), runs batted in (56) and slugging percentage (.965).
The Rangers are back in the Region 23 Tournament for a second straight year, making just their third all-time appearance. The game will be a rematch of last year’s Region 23 Tournament game, a 12-6 victory for Northwest Mississippi that ended LSU Eunice’s season.
Fans can watch all the action from the Region 23 Tournament through Copiah-Lincoln’s web stream. The free video feed can be found on colinathletics.com.