Shepherd teams both pursue tournament berths
SHEPHERDSTOWN — One of Shepherd’s diamond teams can probably see quaint Quakertown, Pa. just ahead, as it readies to end the regular season on the first Saturday in May.
The other group of baseball-playing Rams can just as clearly see the conference postseason tournament coming at Slippery Rock, as it takes to a non-conference schedule this week.
As of today, the softball Rams hold a precarious one-game lead over Kutztown in the East Division of the PSAC.
Shepherd’s 20-8 conference record has it playing two more games than second-place Kutztown (now 18-8) and eight more games than third-place West Chester (now 12-8).
Still in the running for a conference tournament berth are East Stroudsburg (now 12-10), Shippensburg (now 13-11) and Millersville (now 11-13).
Four teams earn their way to Quakertown for the tournament.
In the softball West Division, it’s Seton Hill with a scant lead over second-place California. The Griffins hold a 14-4 conference record and California is now at 12-4. The other three teams in the race for one of the four berths from the West are Gannon (at 16-8), Indiana (now 15-9) and Mercyhurst (now at 11-9).
Shepherd is 24-9 overall and could command an Atlantic Regional berth even it does not win the PSAC tournament.
The baseball Rams trail only Millersville in the East Division race. Second-place Shepherd takes a respite from conference play after facing both Alderson-Broaddus and Salem on the road in mid-week games. The Rams are idle today and tomorrow and return to conference play next weekend with four games against East Stroudsburg. Shepherd’s final weekend of PSAC play has it playing four times against Mansfield (now 7-17 overall).
Millersville, which has a possible make-up game against Shepherd, is 12-5 in conference play and 15-7 overall. Shepherd is 14-9 in conference games and 16-9 overall. In third place is Bloomsburg at 12-8 with West Chester chasing along at 9-7, Shippensburg is still very much in the race with a 10-8 record, East Stroudsburg is right there with an 11-9 mark and Kutztown with a mathematical chance with its 10-14 conference record.
In the West Division, it’s high-flying Seton Hill with a 7-1 conference record and a 15-1 overall mark. California, playing eight more league games than the Griffins, is at 10-6, the same record as Mercyhurst. In fourth place is Slippery Rock, having managed to play only eight conference games and showing a 5-3 league record.
Pitt-Johnstown is still alive with its 9-7 record and so is Gannon at 8-8 in its PSAC games.
Like the Shepherd softball team, the baseball Rams could also gain the attention of the Atlantic Regional selectors if it does well down the stretch.
Non-conference opponents Alderson-Broaddus and Salem both have losing records and the Rams swept an earlier doubleheader versus A-B in Shepherdstown. Salem’s record was 8-23 before this week. The Rams were scheduled to face the Tigers in three games in mid-week.
In the final four-game league series of the regular season, Shepherd’s opponent Mansfield was in last place in the eight-team East Division and had won only seven games this year.
With a total of 12 regularly scheduled games remaining, Shepherd needs four wins to post a 20-win season. Will the league mandate a make-up game against front-running Millersville? If so, that would give the Rams 13 more games moving into this week.