JOPLIN, Mo. - Southern Arkansas faced elimination on Saturday afternoon from Warren Turner Field, but used a complete game shutout from junior right hander Mikel Howell to force an end to Arkansas Tech's season.
But the Muleriders found themselves on the wrong end of the nightcap in Joplin as a Missouri Southern surged late with 10 runs over the final four innings resulted in an 11-4 loss for SAU.
The Muleriders conclude the 2023 campaign at 40-18 making it the 13th 40-win season in the program's NCAA history. Southern Arkansas won its seventh regular season Great American Conference Championship (24-9) and its seventh league tournament title and was in the NCAA postseason for the 15th time.
In the opener, which pitted the Muleriders and Wonder Boys against each other for the fifth time this season and for the 11th time since the start of 2022, SAU outhit Arkansas Tech 11-7, while ATU stranded a dozen base runners much to the credit of Howell and stellar defensive play behind him as the Muleriders turned a trio of double plays to aid Howell's second complete game of the season.
Missouri Southern's sixth inning resulted in four runs on four hits, while the host's seventh included three more runs on three hits as the Lions grabbed a 8-2 advantage heading into the stretch. SAU answered two more MSSU runs in the eighth with a Jackson Duke two-out two-bagger.
MSSU recorded ten of their 13 hits and scored ten of its 11 runs in the final four frames after managing just a single run on three hits through the first five frames of action.
The Muleriders saw five members of the 2023 squad garner all-region acclaim, nine receive all-conference honors, with three all-defensive team selections, five all-tournament team members and the tournament MVP to go along with four that were named to all-academic teams.