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Courtesy: Brian Tannehill

Alabama State to face WKU in postseason NISC

Courtesy: SWAC.org
Release: 05/14/2017
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - After a valiant effort that fell just shy of their second straight Southwestern Athletic Conference softball title, the Alabama State Lady Hornets (21-33) will have postseason action, as Alabama State received a berth in the 2017 National Invitational Softball Championship.

Alabama State heads to Atlanta, Ga. to face Western Kentucky (29-29) in the Georgia State University regional. The contest takes place at 1 pm EST on May 16.

Joining the Lady Hornets and Lady Toppers in the region are Kennesaw State, Georgia State and Tennessee-Martin. By virtue of having the highest RPI of the teams in the region, Kennesaw State is the region's top seed and has received a first-round bye.

On paper, Alabama State comes in with a pronounced advantage offensively, as Western Kentucky's team batting average is just .223, compared to the Lady Hornets' .307 clip, which ranks in the top 35 nationally. Valerie Centeno leads the charge, hitting .399 with 63 hits, 30 RBI, eight doubles , eight triples and three home runs.

Helping to flesh out a lineup that boasts six regular starters with +.300 batting averages or better are Perry Hindi (.354, 56 hits, 39 runs, 10 doubles, six home runs, 30 RBI) and Kendall Core (.321, 52 hits, nine home runs, 48 RBI).

Justine Jean and Vanessa Bradford are the top arms in the rotation, and both are coming off exceptional outings in the SWAC softball tournament, as both posted sub-2.0 ERAs for much of the week; a stark contrast to their season statistics to that point.

Jordan Mauch is Western Kentucky's most dangerous hitter, batting .303 with 53 hits, 30 runs scored, 12 home runs and 29 RBI. While Mauch is the team's lone .300 hitter and WKU has amassed 326 strikeouts as a team this season, the Toppers appear to have a "boom-or-bust" philosophy at the plate and do possess power through the order.

Western Kentucky has put 43 pitches out of the park this year -- best in Conference USA -- as Brittany Vaughn and Adarian Gray each have hit at least eight home runs and driven in 30 runs or more.

Kathryn Downing is the team's top arm, boasting a 2.37 ERA to go with a 16-13 record with five shutouts and 100 strikeouts this year.