For the first time in 2018, both the North Dakota State softball and baseball teams will play in Fargo. But with the regular season winding down, both teams are looking to climb in the Summit League standings. Here is where the standings sit heading into this weekend’s contests.
The Bison have won the last four Summit League tournament crowns and eight of the last nine. Of those eights, only once have the Bison been seeded outside the top two.
Currently, the Bison sit third in the mess of the standings. A look down the conference games played reads 9, 11, 7, 14, 11, 8. With just two weeks to go, there is still lots to figure out in the Summit.
Western Illinois sits on the top of the standings with a record of 8-1 in the Summit League. The Leathernecks have dropped just one contest in the Summit this year. That loss was to Omaha last Saturday.
But the journey for the Leathernecks gets harder over the final two weeks. South Dakota State travels to Macomb this weekend before a season-ending trip to Fargo.
South Dakota State holds two more losses than the Leathernecks in two more games. The Jackrabbits have lost a single game to three different opponents, Omaha, South Dakota and NDSU. Three games against Western Illinois wrap up the Summit League schedule for the Jacks.
South Dakota is finished with conference play with a record of 5-9 and sit in fourth. Omaha has snuck three wins in the Summit this year, one from each of the top three. The Mavericks could leap into the four spot with a sweep of the bottom of the table Fort Wayne.
The Mastodons are the Bison’s opponents this week in the newly renovated Ellig Sports Complex.
All signs point to the season finale three-game series between the Bison and the Leathernecks being for the top seed in the Summit League tournament. Unless the Leathernecks can sweep the Jacks, they all but guarantee the top line.
The standings in baseball are much tighter in the midfield, but three-time defending regular and tournament champions Oral Roberts sit clear of the field.
Sitting at 13-5, the Golden Eagles are the only team in the league with double-digit conference wins.
Behind them, four teams sit with seven or eight wins. Omaha and South Dakota State hold identical 8-7 records going into this weekend.
The pair meet in Brookings the first weekend of May. First, the Mavericks travel to Fargo for the Bison’s first Summit League series at Newman Outdoor Field. Both teams have 12 Summit League games remaining this year.
Western Illinois sits in fourth with two fewer losses in two fewer games than NDSU at 7-7. The pair faced off in a three-game set last weekend with the Leathernecks taking two of three from the Bison. In fact, the two teams face the same four teams for the rest of the season.
The race for the final spot is on, and Fort Wayne sits at 5-13, still within touching distance of fourth.
The good news for the Bison: the last 12 games of the season take place at home. No other Summit League team gets that comfort. NDSU went 10-13 overall away from home this season. Western Illinois has picked up two wins in 15 games on the road.
Chalk up another advantage for the Bison in that regard when it comes to playing the Golden Eagles. Western Illinois must go to Tulsa, where Oral Roberts has lost just five games.