Softball Preview: Gulf South Conference Tournament

CARROLLTON, Ga. - For the first time since the 2014 season, the University of West Georgia softball program will be a participant in the Gulf South Conference softball tournament, as the Wolves enter this year's tourney as the No. 8 seed, taking on Alabama Huntsville now on Saturday, May 6 at noon at Charger Park in Huntsville, Ala. 

The tournament has gone through several changes thus far during the week, as the double-elimination tournament was originally scheduled to begin on Thursday morning.Heavy rains that swept through the South forced the tournament to move to a Friday start, utilizing both Charger Park and the nearby Sportsplex to get the event back on schedule. But another band of rain then came through Huntsville throughout the morning on Friday and another band is likely to hit this evening, pushing the tournament to Saturday and forcing GSC officials to change the format to a single elimination tourney. 

West Georgia vs. UAH - Regular Season
The Wolves were able to take one game from the Lady Chargers during the regular season meeting in Huntsville on February 25-26. The first day saw West Georgia's Kathryn Woody toss a two-hitter in Game 1 en route to a split after UAH came back to win 5-2 in the second game. In the single game on Sunday, the Lady Chargers pounded out 15 hits and took the series with a 10-2 victory in six innings. Peyton Stallworth and Marley Stowers each had four hits in the series and Trinity Kirkland homered to lead the UWG offensive on the weekend. 

UWG and the Gulf South Conference
For just the third time in program history, a UWG player has been named Gulf South Conference Freshman of the Year, a Raven Smith was given that honor earlier this week by league officials. Smith hit .376 for the year with nine doubles, a triple and six home runs and was the Wolves' leader with 40 RBI on the year. In addition, sophomore Sierra Stella was named First Team All-Gulf South Conference for her play as the Wolves' second baseman and regular leadoff hitter. Stella finished the regular season with a .356 batting average, collecting 11 doubles and two triples and scored 47 runs on the year. 

The UWG Starting Lineup
Among the nine regular hitters in the UWG lineup, head coach Al Thomas has seven different players who are hitting .300 or above for the year. Sophomore left fielder Peyton Stallworth is second on the team with a .360 batting average, and she had solid output this season with eight doubles, a triple and four home runs. Four different starters had double-digit doubles numbers, led by Summer Wallace with 15. Marley Stowers had 13, while Stella and Lexie Stohr each had 11. Stohr was also a picture of patience at the plate this season, drawing 27 walks on the year, which is tied for the eighth-most single-season walks in school history. 

School Records
One school record was set by the 2017 West Georgia Wolves during the regular season, as Stella set a new standard for stolen bases with 26 swipes on the year. She set the record on the final day of the regular season against Union, breaking the old record of 25, set by Sharae Battles in the 2002 campaign. 

In the Circle
Junior Danielle Easterly has emerged as the ace for the UWG staff in recent weeks, and she heads into the 2017 Gulf South Conference tournament with an 8-8 record and a 3.37 ERA on the year. She leads the team with 51 strikeouts, one more than freshman Adriana Durden, who is the team leader with a 10-5 record on the year.