ABILENE, Texas -

Hardin-Simmons’ softball team will open play in the 2014 American Southwest Conference Softball Championship Tournament on Wednesday at 4 p.m. against Louisiana College in Tyler.

The Cowgirls go into the event as the No. 5 seed after going 21-17 in the regular season and 18-15 in conference action. Louisiana College comes in with a record of 21-12 overall and the Wildcats went 21-13 in league play. HSU won two of the three games in the series between the two teams in Pineville.

HSU is in the ASC Championship after a one-year absence. The Cowgirls are making their eighth overall appearance in the tournament, in the 11-year history of the program. HSU won the event in 2006 and 2007, beating LC both times in the championship game.

The Cowgirls have a young team under second-year head coach Arin Salas, with 12 of the 15 players being either freshmen or sophomores. Only senior Mac Clay and junior Carley Willis have ASC postseason experience.

HSU is led by a balanced offensive attack. Sophomore first baseman Kara LeLeux leads the Cowgirls in batting average (.333), home runs (6) and RBIs (22). Sophomore outfielder Sydnie Darden is hitting .315 and leads the team with 10 stolen bases.

Clay is hitting .277 and leads the team with 25 runs scored, 10 doubles and also has three home runs and 17 RBIs. She splits her time between second base and catcher.

Freshman infielder Braleigh Middleton has been impressive at the plate, hitting .306 with 17 RBIs and seven stolen bases. She also is stellar defensively at either shortstop or second base. Freshman catcher Lauren Williams had three home runs and 17 RBIs on the year.

The Cowgirls have split the pitching duties between mainly three pitchers. Freshman Emily Hardaway is 9-9 with a 2.74 ERA. She has worked 102 innings and has eight complete-games and three shutouts. Senior Keeley Lowrance is 10-5 with a 3.57 ERA in 86 innings and freshman Lara Ammermann has worked 40 innings on the year.

With a win the Cowgirls will play the winner of the Texas-Tyler and LeTourneau game at 10 a.m. on Friday. With a loss, the Cowgirls will play the loser of the Texas-Dallas and Mary Hardin-Baylor game at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The eight-team double elimination event runs from Wednesday until Sunday on the campus of Texas-Tyler and the winner gets an automatic bid into the NCAA Championship.

UT-Tyler is providing free video broadcasts of the entire tournament at patriotslive.tv.

Information for this story provided by HSU Athletics.