LOCAL COLLEGE ROUNDUP: ASU softball stunned in conference tourney opener, earns all-conference awards; Darton softball splits; DC winter sports programs earns national honors

ASU softball coach Robert Skinner was less than pleased Thursday after his softball team lost, 8-7, to Fort Valley State in the first round of the conference tournament after the Lady Rams beat FVSU four times during the regular season.

ASU softball coach Robert Skinner was less than pleased Thursday after his softball team lost, 8-7, to Fort Valley State in the first round of the conference tournament after the Lady Rams beat FVSU four times during the regular season.

COLUMBUS — ASU entered the conference softball tournament as the top seed in the Eastern Division.

Now they need to win three games today just to make it to the weekend.

ASU was stunned by Fort Valley — a team it beat four times during the regular season — in its conference tourney opener Thursday, 8-7. The Lady Rams gave up five runs in the first inning when Chelsea Hicks got into trouble by walking four batters and hitting two more, but Hicks settled down from there and ASU rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning on a home run by none other than Hicks.

“That was about the only thing we did right all day,” a disappointed ASU head coach Robert Skinner said of his team, which committed four errors in the loss. “When you make mistakes like that, it sets you up to get beat.”

ASU will now have to beat Clark Atlanta at 9 a.m. today in the losers’ bracket just to advance to a noon game against Miles and keep its title hopes alive. If ASU beats Clark and Miles, it will play an opponent to be determined at 5 p.m.

ASU PLACES TWO ON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM: The 2012 Softball All-Conference team was announced Thursday and two Albany State University Lady Rams were honored.

ASU sophomore catcher Chaconna Marks and freshman pitcher Hicks were named to the teams, which were selected by the conference’s Softball Coaches Association. Marks was selected for First-Team honors, while Hicks was named to the Second Team.

Marks, who leads the Lady Rams with 144 at bats, 48 hits, including eight doubles and three triples, has posted a .333 batting average, along with a .493 slugging percentage. The Covington native has scored 29 runs and hit three home runs to go along with 25 RBI. Defensively, Marks has recorded a .944 fielding percentage with 119 put-outs and 49 assists.

A Marietta native, Hicks has recorded 33 hits, including two home runs and six doubles, with a .306 batting average and .417 slugging percentage. She has scored 15 runs and driven in 23 runs. Hicks was also solid on defense for the Lady Rams, striking out 71 batters in 166.2 innings. She has a .989 fielding percentage with 48 put-outs and 40 assists.

DARTON SOFTBALL SPLITS WITH GEORGIA MILITARY: The Darton College softball team split Thursday with another region foe it dominated earlier in the year as the Lady Cavs have gone from winning a school record 30 games in a row to just 5-3 in its last eight games following a win and loss at home against Georgia Military.

Darton won Game 1, 9-6, then lost Game 2, 8-4, as its record went to 41-4 overall and 13-3 in Region XVII.

Saturday’s regular-season finale against Georgia Perimeter was moved up to today at 2 p.m., and the two teams will play a doubleheader. If Darton wins just one of those games, it will secure the top seed and homefield advantage for the Region XVII Tournament that starts next week. If the Lady Cavs somehow lose both, they could drop to as low as No. 3 because Georgia Perimeter is currently the No. 2 team in the conference.

Katy Jordan won Game 1 for Darton, which was highlighted by an Erica Vazquez three-run homer, while Jenny Willis shouldered the loss on the mound in Game 2.

DARTON ATHLETICS RECOGNIZED NATIONALLY: The National Alliance of Two Year College Athletic Administrators announced Thursday that Darton College Athletics as No. 3 among the winter leaders of the 2011-12 NATYCAA Cup Standings.

Darton’s winter sports include women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving and men’s wrestling. All of Darton’s winter programs produced NJCAA All-American student-athletes in the 2011-2012 season, culminating in freshman swimmer Anna Macht’s national championship title in the 400 IM.

“Again, the hard work and dedication of our student-athletes, coaching staff and our very supportive faculty and staff at Darton College has led to another successful athletic season that has brought this national recognition to our campus,” Darton athletic director Mike Kiefer said.

Darton earned 84.5 points in the scholarship college division poll. Iowa Central Community College led with 123.0 total points, while Monroe (N.Y.) Community College ranked second with 92.5 points.

But it should be noted that Iowa Central and Monroe have more teams and offer athletic programs not offered at Darton, such as men’s basketball and hockey, which contributed to their higher point totals.

Darton’s fall sports programs finished No. 4 overall in a previous poll by the NATYCAA.

Additionally. Darton’s ongoing spring sports — baseball, softball and golf — are all currently ranked nationally.