The Central Arkansas softball Bears returned to action at Farris Field on Saturday morning looking to break a tie with the Abilene Christian Wildcats in the Southland Conference standings.
The Bears did just that, taking down the Wildcats 5-2 to take the series 2-1 and move into sole possession of fifth place in the conference standings.
The win did more than that though, ensuring that the Bears can finish conference play with a record of no worse than 14-13 and clinching a spot in the upcoming Southland Conference Tournament, the Bears' sixth-straight appearance
As with the first two games of the series, it was Abilene Christian (21-23, 13-11 SLC) who struck first, thanks to an RBI single from shortstop Peyton Hedrick in the top of the third.
Central Arkansas (26-23, 14-10 SLC) would answer in the bottom of the inning, thanks to a two-out rally started by left fielder Oakley Sisemore, who worked a walk, stole second, and came in to score on a double off the top of the wall in left field by shortstop Kate Myers.
Second baseman Libby Morris then ripped a single back up the middle to drive in Myers and give the Bears a 2-1 lead.
ACU would put a pair of runners in scoring position in the top of the fourth, thanks to walks from catcher Kayla Keeling and third baseman Katelyn Belch and a UCA passed ball, but Rachel Haberman came on in relief and got a pair of popouts on the infield to end the threat.
After lineout from first Kaylyn Shepherd opened the bottom of the inning, third baseman Audrey Pratt was hit by a pitch and catcher Cylla Hill picked up her second home run of the series, launching a 1-0 pitch from ACU starter Hannah Null into the UCA bullpen to extend the UCA lead to 4-1 with a two-run shot.
A wild pitch allowed the Wildcats to pull to within a pair, at 4-2 in the sixth, but an RBI single from Hill drove in pinch runner Reagan Sperling, who had moved from first to third on a sacrifice bunt from Pratt, to cap the weekend's scoring.
Maddy Prough got the start for the Bears in the circle, limiting the Wildcats to a single run on two hits and four walks with three strikeouts in 3.1 innings, before Haberman (9-3) picked up her second relief win of the series by holding ACU to one run on three hits and two strikeouts in the final three and two-thirds innings.
A trio of Bears turned in two for three performances at the plate, with Hill adding three RBI and a run scored, Morris tallying an RBI, and right fielder Morgan Felts chipping in with a stolen base.
Central Arkansas closes out the regular season at home next weekend, hosting the Northwestern State for a three-game set at Farris Field.
The Bears and Lady Demons will play a doubleheader at 5 p.m. Friday night before concluding the series with a single game at 1 p.m. Saturday.