Jags look to keep hot streak going

Taylor Mitchell By Taylor Mitchell

April 29, 2013 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated April 28, 2013 at 11:29 p.m.

Coaches want their players to be playing their best headed into the postseason, but that's not always the case.

For the UHV softball team, though, that is exactly the case.

In April, the Jaguars have gone 13-3, including a 12-game win streak that began in March.

UHV (26-20) hopes that trend continues this week when the Association of Independent Institutions tournament kicks off Wednesday at the Victoria Youth Sports Complex.

"We struggled in the beginning of the season; we had a couple injuries, had to work some kinks out and move some people around. But it is so important, and we're doing that. We're peaking at the right time," coach Keri Lambeth said.

The Jaguars enter the AII tournament as the No. 2 seed and will face No. 3 seed Victoria (B.C.) Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

"It's nice to be the two seed, but two and three will play each other, so it didn't really matter which one we were," Lambeth said.

Defending conference champion Cal State San Marcos (40-9) enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed and will face the winner of No. 4 Ashford (23-21) and No. 5 LSU-Alexandria (19-26) in the evening game Wednesday.

"We have a very strong conference this year," Lambeth said. "I think it can be anybody. That's why we play the game. The one and two seeds will be the biggest threats, but the three-seed British Columbia is right there with us. LSU-Alexandria can be very sneaky. It will be anybody's game."

The tournament is a double-elimination format with the conference champion and runner-up receiving automatic bids to the NAIA national tournament. Last season, UHV reached the NAIA Championships for the second time in the program's five-year existence.

To make it a third trip in its sixth season and second straight, the Jaguars will need to keep up their strong play that led them through an impressive April.

"It's really important for a team to peak at the right time," Lambeth said. "I think we're doing a good job of that right now."

Several Jaguars will be looked at to lead UHV to a conference title on its home turf, including shortstop Brittany Arredondo, who leads the team in several offensive categories, and Dawn Villegas, the ace of UHV's pitching staff.

"She'll pitch a lot in the tournament, and she'll be our ace in the circle," Lambeth said. "We have a lot of leadership on the team. We just have to make sure we keep our heads on straight and take every element of the game seriously."

Of the four schools coming to Victoria this week, the Jaguars have only faced LSU-Alexandria. UHV won three of the first four meetings but lost 7-6 in the final meeting.

"Anyone can win this tournament. Any one of these five schools can win it. Everyone is going to have to play hard."



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