Lady Braves open softball tourney against Sterling

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

The nationally-ranked Ottawa University softball begins its postseason Wednesday in the KCAC Tournament.

Ottawa (37-5) earned the top seed and plays No. 8 Sterling (12-30. The top eight teams in the conference at the end of the regular season earned spots in the championship tournament. Sterling, who earned the final spot in the tournament.

Ottawa University outfielder Sammi Bates has helped ignite an explosive offense this season.

Ottawa has just won one KCAC Tournament title in program history.

Ottawa coach Jay Kahnt said Ottawa will need to match everybody else’s intensity.

“We are in the national playoffs,” Kahnt said. “Our season and careers are not on the line next. We have to find a way to match that. Everybody now is playing for their careers. Their focus is going to be higher than in the regular season. We have to be ready to go.”

Ottawa heads into the tournament riding a 16-game winning streak.

The No. 2 seed Bethany College will take on No. 7 seeded Tabor College. The Swedes earned the No. 2 seed after compiling a 19-5 record in KCAC play, as part of a 25-25 overall record. Tabor sports an overall mark of 14-30.

The No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup will pit Oklahoma Wesleyan University (the No. 4 seed) vs. McPherson College (the No. 5 seed). The two teams were separated by two games in the final conference standings. The Eagles went 17-8 in the regular season overall and 17-7 against conference foes, while the Bulldogs went 18-12 overall and 15-9 in the KCAC.

The winner of that matchup advances to the winner’s bracket semifinals against the winner of the Ottawa-Sterling game.

The fourth quarterfinal pits No. 3 Friends University against No. 6 seed Avila University. Friends secured the No. 3 seed following a season in which they went 29-14 overall, with a 18-6 record in conference play. Friends was the only team to beat Ottawa in conference play.