The No. 10-ranked Crowder Lady Roughriders — 51-3 overall — earned the top seed and opening round bye for the Region 16 postseason tournament beginning Friday at the KC Urban Youth Academy in Kansas City, Missouri.
Crowder waits on the winner of the opening game Friday between No. 4 State Fair (24-22) and No. 5 North Central (27-20).
Two fields will be utilized for the double-elimination tournament and the tournament winner should be determined by Sunday, if the weather cooperates over the weekend.
Pitching has been the main strength for Crowder this season.
Freshman Bailey Buffington leads with a 22-2 overall record and a 1.36 ERA with 177 strikeouts and 21 walks over 139 innings. Buffington has thrown 15 complete games.
Sophomore pitcher Maddy Prough owns a 20-0 record and a 0.99 ERA with 130 strikeouts and 25 walks over 120 innings. Prough has two saves and 11 complete games.
Freshmen pitchers Aspen Younce and Emily Admire have combined for nine wins — Younce owns a 8-1 record with an 1.49 ERA and Admire a 1-0 record and a 2.33 ERA.
Crowder pitchers have a combined 1.26 ERA. By comparison, opposing pitchers have a 6.92 ERA against Crowder.
The Lady ‘Riders rank third in the nation in team ERA, behind Wallace-Dothan (1.11) and Florida SouthWestern (1.22).
Prough ranks second individually in ERA, .01 behind Wallace-Dothan’s Baliee Dempsey, and Buffington comes in at 10th.
Buffington ranks sixth and Prough 13th in victories. Wallace-Dothan’s Mallie Brown and Arizona Western’s Koryne Coddington are tied for the nation’s best with 27 victories.
Offensively, Crowder generated 430 runs in 54 games and the Lady ‘Riders collectively hit .385, ranked 11th in the nation. The Lady ‘Riders have batted 184 points higher than their opponents.
Four players achieved 54 games played — sophomore second baseman Kenzie Kallio, sophomore outfielder Payton Wildeman, freshman catcher Dia Jackson, and sophomore catcher Baylor Miles.
Kallio, solid and steady in the No. 2 slot, owns a .312 average (54 for 179) with 39 runs scored, 17 doubles, one triple, 48 RBI, 25 walks and 18 strikeouts, and five stolen bases in as many attempts.
Wildeman leads the team with nine triples, nine homers, and 52 RBI, as well as 60 runs scored, and her 35 hits for extra bases account for nearly half of her 75 total hits. Hit numbers like that contribute to a .811 slugging percentage, a number good enough for 48th in the nation, and a .444 batting average. Wildeman’s tied for fourth in the country with her nine triples.
Jackson hit .335 (53-158) with 36 runs scored, 13 doubles, one triple, five homers, 43 RBI, 11 walks and 19 strikeouts, and three stolen bases in as many attempts.
Miles hit .391 (59-151) with 37 runs scored, nine doubles, two triples, four homers, 36 RBI, 27 walks and nine strikeouts, and two stolen bases.
Lexi Lowrance, Shelby Chavers, and Marissa Smith have all played in more than 50 games, with Lowrance and Chavers appearing in 53 of 54 contests.
Chavers has taken on an important role in recent games with the absence of leadoff hitter Lexi McClellan from the Crowder lineup past Game 48.
McClellan leads Crowder with a .453 batting average and 37 stolen bases, and she led the team with 58 runs scored before her six-game absence. She contributed to Crowder’s 116 stolen bases — only one caught stealing all season for the Lady ‘Riders. Crowder has the highest number of steals for the fewest caught stealing.
Sophomore third baseman Kristen Wade, one of the more powerful bats in the Crowder lineup, missed nine games. Wade drove in 40 runs during her 45 games played.
Crowder finished 25-0 at home and 11-0 at neutral sites.
— Only two Region 16 teams managed a victory against Crowder this season — No. 2 seed Three Rivers and No. 3 Jefferson.
Three Rivers won region and district titles last season en route to the JUCO World Series in St. George, Utah, beating Crowder for the region crown after two high-intensity championship games at the Gene Bassman Softball Complex in Joplin.
The Lady Raiders split their first doubleheader with Crowder this season — winning the first game 2-1 in 11 innings —but the Lady ‘Riders put a number on Three Rivers at Roughrider Softball Field with two run-rule victories, 11-2 and 12-0 both over in five innings.
Jefferson and Crowder split their doubleheader in Hillsboro.
Region 16 Softball Tournament
at KC Urban Youth Academy, Kansas City, Missouri
4) State Fair (26-22) vs. 5) North Central (27-20), 9 a.m.
3) Jefferson (37-12) vs. 6) Maple Woods (10-32), 9 a.m.
2) Three Rivers (38-7) vs. 7) St. Charles (2-34), noon
1) Crowder (51-3) vs. State Fair-North Central winner, noon