Argos turn attention to GSC tournament

The best regular season in six years ended Sunday afternoon with a second consecutive loss to Shorter. The Argonauts fell 1-0 to the Hawks in nine innings.

Yet, West Florida University’s softball team is still headed to the Gulf South Conference tournament, earning the third seed. The Argonauts will play the sixth-seeded Hawks at 10 a.m. Thursday in an opening round game on the campus of North Alabama in Florence.

“It’s not the result we wanted for the end of the season but we have nothing to be ashamed of,” said second-year West Florida head coach Melissa Paul. But once the game was over, it was about honoring the seniors who have helped turn this program around. I couldn’t ask for anything more from them.”

Former Navarre standout Emily Pettigrew was one of the four seniors recognized in a post-game ceremony. Pettigrew has been instrumental to the success of the Argos, who won 16 of their final 18 games to finish the regular season at 37-13. It’s their best regular-season record since going 40-13 in 2010.

Pettigrew reached base in 29 consecutive games at one point this season and leads the team in batting with a .387 average. She has tallied 55 hits and has an on-base percentage of .449.

Pettigrew came through with two hits, marking her 16th multi-hit game of the year. Her batting average currently ranks as the fourth-best in a single season.

“Our seniors have provided a lot of leadership, stepping up and guiding the younger players,” Paul said. “They have shown a lot of grit and determination.”

The Argos won only 19 games a season ago while losing 30. Pettigrew said a couple of weeks ago she is thrilled about being part of the turnaround, especially with this being her senior season. She said confidence has been a key to her personal success.

“I’m playing with more confidence because I had a chance to play here last year,” Pettigrew said. “I’m not as nervous now and I’m hitting the ball well.”

Pettigrew and the Argos will look to keep that success going Thursday in a six-team double-elimination GSC tournament that is up for grabs. West Florida is also aiming for its 11th NCAA tournament appearance in program history. The Argos are third in the regional rankings. The top eight qualify for the tournament.

“It’s going to be a battle. All six teams are good and anyone can win it,” Paul said. “It’s all about who shows up and does the little things it takes to win.”

For a complete look at the GSC tournament bracket, click here.

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