Prep Softball: Washington sits atop the SEC with one full series to go

Mount Pleasant, IA- The race for the softball Southeast Conference (SEC) crown features two of the best teams in their respective classes getting ready to clash for their three-game series next week, but there’s plenty of other meaningful matchups to discuss.

At the top of the conference standings, #7 in Class 3A Washington is a perfect 10-0 against other SEC opponents having outscored their foes by 93 runs. Their series against Keokuk will be interrupted tonight with a rescheduled game against Fairfield.

The Demons offense has impressed thus far, scoring 10 or more runs in nine of their conference showdowns. Add in a team earned-run-average (ERA) of 2.48 and the Demons are a tough squad to surmount.

Players to Watch: Isabella Salazar, Ella Greiner, and Alyvia Anderson

Burlington had been neck-and-neck with Washington, but a freak injury to senior star Saydee Plummer has led to a slew of losses for the Grayhounds: 2-4 in their last six games. Understandably, Plummer rocked a 0.81 ERA and 0.412 batting average before the injury.

Their struggling offense has been exposed during this streak, scoring four runs or less in half of their contests. This led to a 3-1 loss to Fort Madison in game one of their Monday doubleheader this week before they answered with an 11-1 thrashing in game two.

The Grayhounds (9-1 in SEC play) will need to exit with the win tomorrow against the Bloodhounds to have an opportunity to defend their conference title.

Players to Watch: Kylee Hill, Lillian Hand, and Aubrey Hesler

Fort Madison sits tied with Keokuk in terms of record at 4-6, but the Bloodhounds have a -1-run differential compared to a -33-run differential for the Chiefs. In their head-to-head matchups, Keokuk boasts a 2-0 record, winning 7-4 in game one and 9-7 in game two.

Despite committing seven errors between the two games, Keokuk hit over 0.300 in game one and nearly 0.470 in game two. The Bloodhounds held the lead in game two at one point, but their defense and pitching struggled.

The Chiefs will attempt to upset the Demons tomorrow, while Fort Madison will look to win the series against Burlington.

Players to Watch (Keokuk): Ada Wood, Ellianna Brewer, and Suzie Whitaker

Players to Watch (Fort Madison): Gabrielle Ruble, Lauryn Helmick, and Alivia Holmes

Fairfield entered this week without a win against an SEC opponent (not in a tournament setting). After Monday’s handling of Mt. Pleasant, the Trojans escaped the cellar and tout a 2-8 mark in conference play with a -38-run differential.

In their eight losses, the Trojans managed only 21 runs but in their two games against the Panthers the offense woke up and scored 24 runs. Pitching has been the biggest question mark since the Trojans saw their ace Coty Engle graduate last year, their staff ERA is 6.67.

The Trojans will take on the Demons tonight before finishing their series against the Panthers tomorrow.

Players to Watch: Laney Norris, Savannah Hollander, and Leah Helmick

Mt. Pleasant is one of, if not the youngest roster in the state of Iowa as the Panthers routinely start four 8th graders and a freshman. The inexperience has led to some growing pains as the Panthers are 2-17 on the year overall and 1-9 in the conference.

Offense has been the biggest issue for the Panthers as they have been shutout in seven of their losses and managed just five runs in their past six games. There have been bright spots this season with such as holding Burlington to a 2-2 tie until the 5th inning.

Mt. Pleasant will be looking for revenge against Fairfield tomorrow and their first season of multiple conference victories since 2020.

Players to Watch: Emma Starr, Chaley Cook, and Kynlee White