Volume 132, Issue 8: February 15, 2024

Page 1



SIGNAL The heart of Ouachita news


COVER STORY.............................3 NEWS......................................4-5 ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT...............6 OPINIONS...................................7 SPORTS......................................8





Emilee Webb



Kaelin Clay


Kate Ellis


Jane Ellen Dial



Madison Basco COPY EDITOR


Dr. Jeff Root Adviser

Ouachita Baptist University Office: Evans Student Center Email: signal@obu.edu Phone: (870) 245-5210


Abby Nipper


Sarah Dean


Meghann Bledsoe PHOTO EDITOR

Dr. Deborah Root Adviser

Dr. Jackson Carter Online Adviser

The Signal is the student newspaper of Ouachita Baptist University, and is published twice a month on Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters when school is in session. The newspaper is distributed free of charge; 1,200 copies are placed in more than 20 locations across campus. Opinions expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or university. The Signal is a member of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the Associated Collegiate Press and is printed by the Nashville Leader. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Letters to the editor are encouraged and accepted, unless libelous, irresponsible or obscene. Letters should be typed and include a signature and contact phone number, and must be less than 500 words. The Signal reserves the right to edit letters for space and style. Letters should be sent via campus mail to Box 3761 or via email to signal@obu.edu.


Hardin shares her lifelong love for theater BY CAMRYN STROUPE Opinions Editor

Junior Amaya Hardin entered the Broadway World’s Next On Stage Competition in the fall semester of 2023. In this competition, high school and college theater students submit videos of themselves performing Broadway hits and are voted on by the public. Though Hardin submitted a video as a shot in the dark, a few months later she found herself in New York City as one of the top 3 contestants competing in the live finale. As a result of becoming a finalsit, Hardin won her trip to New York City, received three Broadway show tickets and performed at the famous theater 54 Below. Her favorite part about the trip, however, was the people. “The contestants and the judges were so sweet,” Hardin said. “The judges genuinely cared about all the contestants. I got to meet one of my favorite performers ever, Michael James Scott. I’ve been following his journey since eighth grade, and now he is playing the Genie on Broadway. One of our judges was in the original cast of Mean Girls, and another was a girl who is currently leading in Moulin Rouge. It was surreal.” Hardin was able to deeply connect with the other contestants. “I went in thinking it was going to be super competitive, but everyone was so nice,” Hardin said. Hardin reflected on her time with the group before the competition and was thankful for the opportunity and the impact it had on her. “Honestly, at that point, we got to the competition, and we didn’t care who won,” Hardin said. “We all deserved to be in the room, and even the judges said that. It was the perfect group, and we connected on a level that I’ve never connected with anyone before in such a short amount of time.”

Hardin’s journey to the big stage did not happen overnight; she has worked extremely hard to get where she is today. Since the age of 3, Hardin has shown an aptitude and love for musical theater. “My Mimi was my teacher, and she and my aunt owned an elementary school,” Hardin said. “They would always put on a Christmas pageant, and we would do scenes and songs. That was my introduction to theater. It didn’t really click for me until eighth grade, when

got an email from Broadway World and decided I should try again.” Hardin advanced through several phases of competition, and each round, she was met with the excitement of those around her celebrating her accomplishments. “During Festival of Christmas, the live round of announcing the names came around. Everyone kept asking if they had said my name yet, and I really thought that they weren’t going to. I went to the Green Room in JPAC as they got to

ner on my mom’s lap, since I knew I would need comfort if I didn’t make it. They announced my name, and I started bawling. This meant I was going to go to New York. “I still think back to that moment. My granny and my mom started crying, and my dad even started tearing up. It was a beautiful scene, and just to have that alone was enough for me in that moment. It boosted my confidence so much. It’s every performer’s shtick that you think at some point

Junior Amaya Hardin performs “Home” from the hit Broadway musical “The Wiz” during the 2024 Broadway World Next on Stage Competition. Hardin advanced to the top 3 and traveled to the final round in New York City. (photo by Jennifer Broski)

I was cast as Rafiki in ‘The Lion King, Jr.’ This was when I got on stage and thought, ‘I want to do this forever and ever.’” Her love for musical theater started early, but Hardin’s process to get to the finale of this competition began during the first season of Next On Stage in 2020. “I competed the first time when COVID hit and didn’t get past the first round,” Hardin said. “This time around, I was lying in bed and

the final slot of the top 15, and they said my name.” The next round’s top 10 were announced during one-acts, and the top 5 were announced during winter break. The announcement of the top 3 contestants happened while Hardin was home surrounded by family. “I was at my granny’s house because I wanted to get my mind away from the competition,” Hardin said. “I watched it in the cor-

that you aren’t truly good enough. It’s the little things that happen throughout your career that help you build your confidence. That was one of those moments for me. It helped me be more determined to advance my talents. That moment snapped me to a new reality, and I’m forever thankful for that. I didn’t even need a win because I’d already won in my eyes.” Hardin’s career is just beginning, and for the time being, she is a stu-

dent at OBU, focusing on learning and honing her craft. Hardin’s Ouachita story is unique and has been one of change and growth. “I wasn’t actually supposed to go to Ouachita at first,” Hardin said. “I was planning on going to Boston Conservatory. They offered almost a full scholarship, but it was still too much. My in-state option was Ouachita, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Then, I met Dr. Natilan Crutcher. She is my voice professor, and I love her dearly. She is the reason my voice has gotten more mature, and after my first semester of freshman year, I could already hear how my voice sounded different; I felt my voice differently. I call her my auntie because that’s our kind of relationship. It’s not like we don’t have a professional relationship, but she’s like my family now. After that first semester here, so many things were happening in my life that I didn’t have control over. My voice lessons with Dr. Crutcher were always my release and my relaxation, and she always greeted me with open arms and listened. She still does. She is one of the reasons I stayed at Ouachita, and without her, I wouldn’t have made it as far as I did in the competition. I owe both my Ouachita journey and my vocal journey to her.” Hardin’s connection to theater runs deep, and it has greatly helped her learn and grow as a person. “Theatre to me is an escape from reality, but it also forces me to open my mind to reality,” Hardin said. “It helps me explore new leaps and bounds of life that I might not have experienced before, and I am stepping into those and, in a way, experiencing them for myself. It also can help those who participate and watch cope with things that are happening in their real lives. No matter what musical you are performing in or watching, you’re going to learn something from it.”



Shourd reflects on year, passes 2024 Miss Ouachita Baptist University crown to Gibson

Left: Bailey Gibson poses with her new sash and crown following her announcement as Miss OBU. (photo by Sarah Dean) Right: The Miss OBU Court of Honor, Deanne Puryear, Brandon Holloway, Carleigh Jean Himmelsehr, Michael Pasman, Brynn Clark and Sammy Arizaga, perform their opening number to begin the pageant. The Court of Honor provided entertainment throughout the night. (photo by Sarah Dean)


On the evening of Feb. 3, the annual passing of the Miss Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) crown commenced, and a new representative of the university was named. The pageant, which boasted special appearances by Miss Arkansas Cori Keller and Ouachita’s own Miss Arkansas’ Teen Allie Bell, consisted of musical entertainment from area titleholders and the Ouachita Court of Honor in addition to the competition itself. The pageant ran for two hours and ended with the crowning of the new Miss OBU, Bailey Gibson. The four contestants, senior Bailey Gibson, junior Diana Taylor, sophomore Katy Beth Dunn and freshman Ava Weeks, were scored in 5 categories: private interview, onstage conversation, health and fitness, talent and evening wear.

As part of the Miss Arkansas Organization, Miss OBU offers scholarship dollars to its participants. The contestants were competing for scholarships to help alleviate the cost of college tuition as well as the crown. Before the new Miss OBU was crowned, a bittersweet farewell was given by the former Miss OBU, Haley Shourd, who has served the university over the past year. Shourd, a seasoned pageant competitor in the Miss Arkansas Organization, found this farewell to be particularly emotional. “I’ve competed in this organization for two years, and friends have warned me that the university title is the hardest to give up because you feel so loved when representing your school,” Shourd said. “The nice thing about a university title is that you are representing a place that you already call home and know very well. I think the

biggest thing that Miss OBU does is go to Miss Arkansas in the summer. I took pride all week in knowing that I was representing the school that I treasure so much.” During her reign, Shourd had the opportunity to speak to local crowds like the Arkadelphia Rotary Club and Peake Elementary students, attend charity events for her community service initiative “Champions for Childhood Cancer Awareness,” sing the National Anthem for both a veteran walk in downtown Arkadelphia and the 2023 Battle of the Ravine football game and serve the community in many other capacities. Shourd, who has traded in her Miss OBU sash for a Miss South Central sash, will go on to compete at Miss Arkansas for the third time this June in Little Rock alongside her successor, Gibson, who is competing at the pageant for a second year. Shourd offers Gibson a piece

of advice on how to best appreciate the Miss OBU title itself and the Ouachita community while serving in this important role as a representative of the university. “The cheesy [piece of advice] would be to soak it all up, but I think the most important thing is to use this opportunity to point back to God,” Shourd said. “There is a reason that I am in the organization, and it’s because God opened the door for me to fund my education by competing in pageants. The title is an opportunity to share your story with others and also get to know the students and staff around you at school.” Gibson, whose community service initiative is “Financial Literacy for Youth,” stunned in beauty, poise and talent over the course of the night. She performed her own rendition of Elvis Presley’s “If I Can Dream” and answered her onstage question about promot-

ing financial literacy among kids through curriculum in schools. For Gibson, the work is just beginning. As she takes Shourd’s place in the spotlight, she also takes the duties that come with the title and will serve Ouachita through and after her graduation until the next Miss OBU is crowned in 2025. This new position brings gratitude for her. “To be Miss Ouachita Baptist University is truly a blessing,” Gibson said. “I am thankful, honored and humbled to serve Ouachita. I aspire to lead over the next year through my genuine love for the people on this campus. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude. Many women I’ve long admired have served in this role, and I couldn’t be more honored to join this special sisterhood. I’m thankful for the opportunity to give back to the university that has instilled a sense of purpose and passion in my life.”



OSF celebrates 50 years of Grant Center set legacy at anniversary event to host food fest BY JANE ELLEN DIAL


The Ouachita Student Foundation (OSF) is not just an organization on campus; it is a legacy of students helping students on campus for the last 50 years. This year, OSF turns 50. In true Ouachita fashion, there was a big celebration. “50 years of ‘students helping students’ is definitely worth celebrating, and we kicked the year of celebration off strong with our 50-Year Celebration on Feb. 10th,” Jon Merryman, director of OSF, said. “This event included honoring our founding members, hearing from past OSF presidents, former tunes hosts and founding members of Point of Grace. From Tiger Traks to Tiger Tunes, Fund Runs and campus tours, OSF has served Ouachita well over these five decades, awarding scholarship dollars to thousands of students in order to help them stay at Ouachita and finish their degrees. We look forward to more celebrations over the course of this year and are ready for 50 more years of ‘students helping students.’” Upcoming OSF president Georgia Richards is thankful for the lasting legacy of the organization and how it continually builds upon its history. “The legacy of the OSF has lived for 50 years, and it will continue to live on for 50 more,” Richards said. “OSF has played such an important role on Ouachita’s campus in the last several decades. It has created fun memories and many laughs. But most importantly, it has kept many students on campus for another year. OSF is all about students helping students. Although it is a catchy tagline, I see it more as students serving other students.

The Grant Center for International Education will present the International Food Fest (IFF) on Feb. 20 in Walker Conference Center. For just $5, students can sample dishes from around the world prepared by many of Ouachita’s international students. Sophomore Ligia Silva believes that IFF is a wonderful way that this campus showcases Ouachita’s international community. “We just have a melting pot at this university,” Silva said. “We have people from everywhere, so this event is really important because we get the chance to show our cultures and learn about different cultures as well.” This year’s IFF theme is Postcards Around the World. Much like a postcard, an international dish can serve as a memento from a different part of the world. “When you travel, you buy a postcard because you want to remember the trip and internalize it,” Silva said. “That picture means something to you, so I think that postcards represent memories. Students who attend IFF can make wonderful memories while experiencing something new.” To bring the event together, the International Club started planning months in advance. The International Club is planning to promote IFF with a concert at Dr. Jacks on Feb. 16, which added another layer of preparation. According to junior Nathan Clark, there were several different factors considered during the planning process. “We started meeting as a leadership committee towards the end of last semester,” Clark said. “We have committees for decor, public

Arts/Entertainment Editor

Staff Writer

Point of Grace, joined by past Tiger Tunes hosts and hostesses, performs a song at the OSF 50th anniversary celebration on Feb. 10th. (photo by Meghann Bledsoe)

The OSF has been dedicated to serving students in various ways: Tiger Tunes, Tiger Traks, encouragement, and raising student scholarships. I think that is what lies at the heart of OSF.” The legacy of OSF has only grown over the last 50 years, and because of that, the 50th celebration was one that reflected on its history but also looked forward to the future. “We are excited to be celebrating our 50th anniversary; we’re getting to look back at all of the great things we’ve done over the last 50 years but also getting to look towards our innovations for the future,” current OSF President Cabb Batson said. “No matter what, we’ll stay true to being students helping students— our driving force since 1974.” OSF continues to thrive, not only because of the way that it aids students in being able to stay on campus, but also because students are the driving force in that help. “One of the best things that I’ve observed throughout my years in OSF is the way that members serve others with a joyful heart,” Richards said. “Members genuinely

care about the well-being of their classmates. That is what makes it OSF. Students serve how Jesus served others: with compassion, diligence and great love.” The 50th celebration honored past and present members and the hard work they have done. “In the past 50 years, OSF has raised over $2.1 million in scholarships that have all been given back to Ouachita students,” Georgia Richards said. “We are hoping to continue to increase that number as the years go on.” The organization’s legacy is inspirational, and that inspiration leads students to continue to volunteer their time to help others. “The 50th Celebration was such a sweet time. As the upcoming president, it was humbling to sit in a room with some of the greatest past OSF Presidents,” Georgia Richards said. “I learned about how they lived out ‘students helping students’ in how they served their members, as well as Ouachita’s campus. Hearing their past stories was so fun to listen to. I’m so honored and humbled that I get to be a part of such an amazing legacy.”

relations, sponsorship development and volunteers.” Support from students and the community has helped IFF come to life. Local restaurants will prepare some of the dishes, and several local churches have opened their kitchens for students to cook. Students can volunteer at the event or help in the days leading up to it. Last year, 90 students volunteered, and the volunteer committee is looking for a similar amount this year. “We need volunteers from Friday afternoon until the end of the event,” Clark said. “Volunteering will get you transserve hours, a free t-shirt and free admission to the event.” IFF will feature food from regions across the world, including Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. Students have been hard at work preparing their dishes. “I will be preparing a Papua New Guinean dish with sweet potato and coconut,” Clark said. Those who attend the event can expect a variety of sweet and savory foods that celebrate many different countries. Silva is looking forward to sharing a favorite dessert with fellow students. “I am preparing milk brigadeiro,” Silva said. “It’s a traditional Brazilian sweet that we have at every party.” Attendees will most likely encounter foods they don’t recognize, but Clark believes that it is important to be adventurous. “I’d say to look at the food, and even if it looks different, try it,” Clark said. “It’s always worth it to try it once.” Overall, IFF will allow attendees to create community and have fun while experiencing the rich diversity of culture at Ouachita.


Student directs MUSE project,“Community Garden” BY CAMRYN STROUPE Opinions Editor

This year’s MUSE Project, “Community Garden,” will be presented Feb.15-19 in Verser Theater. The show is directed by Ouachita student Abby Burlison and highlights the importance of caring for the environment and the value of coming together in community. The MUSE project, a unique show opportunity, is a long-standing yearly tradition in which a production is student-directed and completely crafted together by students in the theater department. Previous years have included hits such as “Clue” and “Tanglewood.” Burlison found a love for directing at OBU and wanted to practice her skills through the MUSE Project this year. “I took a directing class with Professor John Forkner, and I really took a liking to it,” Burlison said. “I thought it was really interesting being on the other side, being off the stage and seeing a creative vision come together. I really like putting all those creative elements together and working with my peers. Getting to see them onstage and work with them in their talents is very fulfilling.” “Community Garden” places emphasis on strong community and environmental care from a Christ-centered perspective. “I really wanted to communicate how we are all stewards of God’s creation,” Burlison said. “‘Community Garden’ is set in a community garden in Chicago, and the show really talks about how helping take care of the world around you can also help you take care of other people. We have a motto for our productions. ‘Community Garden’ is like a sapling being planted by very careful and loving hands. All of our characters have this support system, and the garden is their safe place. Even though most

of us don’t know basic gardening, just taking care of creation, even in small ways, can help us make some special connections.” The production takes place in modern-day Chicago, and the garden has a set of volunteers taking care of it. A new volunteer, Ralph, enters the picture, and he begins meeting all the different personalities that have taken care of the garden before him. “Community Garden” takes a different approach to storytelling by presenting vignettes that reveal the overall picture. “We witness people coming in and out of the garden as their safe place,” Burlison said. “We see some love stories, some friendships and an overarching theme of connection between people. We have a few main characters, but everyone is the main character in their parts of the story when they come out.” Kailey May plays a character named Trace in the production, a whimsical, amusing but secretly fate-driven character. “I feel like I really connect with her because she is very fun-loving and has this air about her where she wants to just live in a happy world, in a better place,” May said. “However, she is kind of covering for how she really feels and is struggling to actually communicate with people. Her character arc in this is figuring out how to move on from the situation she’s in and how to open up after. There are a lot of good things in this show, and, to me, that’s one of them.” Brooks Harrison plays Ralph in “Community Garden.” “Ralph is the newcomer to the garden,” Harrison said. “He is very shy and nervous, and he’s also really self-conscious. He loves people, but he’s also very much an introvert. I cannot wait for audience members to see how those two aspects of his personality interact in his relationships with the people around him.”

May has seen how this show is meant to impact others and wants her role to have a lasting impact. “This is such an important show in terms of what the audience can take away from it,” May said. “The whole thing is about portraying a message of self growth and environmental growth. I want to become a more authentic actor so people can see themselves in the story. I tend to also find myself in a lot of the characters I play, and I would love for the audience to experience that, too.” Through “Community Garden,” Harrison has learned the value of being in the character’s shoes and being in the moment during shows. “Sometimes while acting, it’s like I’m just reading the lines off of the page,” Harrison said. “In those moments, I never really process what I’m saying and think about it. One thing Abby has really harped on is that this is all natural; it should feel natural to us and to the audience. We are all having a conversation with the other people on stage with us. I can definitely take that away from this and put it into other things I do.” As a student director, Burlison has learned much about the job

“ “The whole thing is about portraying a mesage of self growth and environmental growth.” — Abby Burlison

she has undertaken, whether that be working with the actors themselves or with the entire stage crew. “Something I’ve learned is that it is important to let the actors have creative freedom to make some

Ouachita’s production of “Community Garden,” directed by Abby Burlison and presented by the department of theatre arts, is advertised to the student body.

choices,” Burlison said. “Yes, you can give specific directions and say, ‘Hey, you move on this line,’ or ‘You need to be here on this line and do this specific gesture,’ but seeing the actors make choices and be spontaneous in the moment when creating connections with each other on stage is really fulfilling to me. As they add their own touch to the characters they are playing, I can look at my peers and think, ‘wow, they are so talented.’ That is something I did

not expect to appreciate so much when I began in this position, and I really enjoy that about directing. Getting to see others shine has been one of the best parts of this experience so far.” There will be five showings of “Community Garden” on Feb. 15-19. Those interested in attending the MUSE project can find more information and purchase tickets at the OBU box office in Verser or at obu.edu/boxoffice.



My experience with Res-Life at Ouachita BY MADDIE PLYLER Guest Writer

When I started my freshman year at Ouachita, I only knew one other girl from my hometown. This was very scary to me since I only knew one other freshman in this whole new world. I am very thankful to have had an RA who took time to get to know me on a personal level during the first couple of weeks. During this time, it was hard for me to find where I belonged in a friend group. The couple of friends that I had all decided to do Tiger Tunes, but I did not since I did not sing or dance. During that month of practice, I felt alone. I remember praying for God to open doors for me to find friendships however He saw fit. As I told my mom about all of this, she had me contact our past pastor’s wife who was an RD on campus. When I reached out to her, she asked me if I had ever thought

about being an RA. I told her that I had never considered it, and the only thing I knew about RAs was that they got their own room. She laughed and said that was true, but they do a lot more. As we talked, I felt such peace about applying and seeing what could happen in this new chapter. I knew I wanted to make an impact on girls that felt the same way I did. I ended up getting the RA job in Maddox Hall on the third floor for the 2022-2023 school year. During the summer of 2022, I was very excited since I would get to decorate my hallway with any theme I chose. I went with polka dots and Mickey Mouse. One of my favorite things I did was the birthday chart. I hand-designed cupcakes with everyone’s name and birthday. When you become a part of ResLife, you do have to move back a couple of weeks early. The first night I was back on campus it was

a little odd because I was the only girl on this huge floor all by myself. Thankfully, within a few days, I had some girls check in, so it was not as quiet there anymore. This was my first work study job, so I learned how to fill out paperwork and log hours. This semester was full of new friendships, not only with my residents, but also with my RD and the other RAs in Maddox Hall. In the spring of 2023 our RD got a new job opportunity on campus. When I first heard about this, I was very sad since she had become like a second mom to me. She explained that she would still be a part of Maddox, but we would have an assistant RD, so if we had any problems, we could go to the new person. A couple of days later, I was offered the position of assistant RD. I prayed about it and felt peace, so I decided to take on this role. Our RD told me she would be there if I needed anything while

Plyler is an apartment manager at the Terrace Apartments. (photo by Sarah Dean)

doing this new job. This was one of the biggest blessings I have ever had in my life, and I will be forever grateful for this experience. Applications for RA came out for the 2023-2024 year. I decided I wanted to apply to be an apartment manager for the new apartments. I received the job as manager for the apartments. This has been very dif-

ferent but has been refreshing. My experience in Res-Life has been great and has made my Ouachita experience better. I would say if you were thinking about applying to be an RA, do it! You may have opportunities to make a lasting impact in someone’s life, an impact that you may have never had if you had not been an RA.

Standardized testing in college admissions BY KELSIE LAWHON Staff Writer

Standardized testing is a subject that many college students and college graduates may prefer to forget. Not long ago, current Ouachita students were studying for and taking the ACT and SAT. The scores potential students received on these standardized tests either aided in their admission or prevented them from being admitted. So, is it fair for a score on a single test to dictate whether a student will be admitted into college? Unfortunately, I think it is. One reason that standardized testing is necessary for college admission is because it offers an objective comparison of potential

candidates. Standardized testing gives colleges an objective measure to compare students from all educational backgrounds. Some argue that grade point average may be a better indicator of academic achievement for higher education, but GPA varies significantly between schools due to differences in teaching styles and/or academic rigor. Colleges value standardized testing because it ensures that all students’ academic abilities are evaluated consistently. Another reason that standardized testing is necessary is that it offers predictive validity. Predictive validity means that a test is able to accurately predict a future outcome. Standardized test scores can also aid in predicting students academic

strengths and weaknesses in high school and in the future. “Measures like standardized tests can aid college administrators in placing students in the right courses where they are able to meet rigorous standards and expectations,” Dr. Rachel Pool, associate professor of education, said. The main drawback of relying on standardized test scores for college admissions, in my opinion, is the potential for inequality, which can affect many drastically. “Only using one type of measure to predict success could shortchange a student, especially if they are not a good test taker but have other dispositional qualities that could help them overcome any challenges,” Pool explained.

Students that come from low-income school districts or have different learning styles may not have the resources they need to succeed on a standardized test, which may result in them being overlooked by colleges. Students that struggle with taking standardized tests may excel in other areas such as group cooperation or project based learning. There are also many reasons a student may struggle with taking standardized tests that may result in a lower score like test anxiety or a learning disability. This potential for inequality is why it is important for colleges to consider all aspects of a student in addition to their standardized test scores. Some students have valuable qualities that tests can’t measure adequately.

I think it is necessary for colleges to consider standardized test scores for admission, even though standardized tests cannot display all skills a student may have. In my opinion, is imperative for colleges to consider test scores to help their students succeed. In order to help combat inequality, I believe that ACT and SAT test preparation classes should be offered or even required in Arkansas high schools. I also think that the price to take these tests should be lowered or be made free of charge regardless of the number of attempts taken in order to provide all students with the chance to succeed. These changes can help make standardized testing more accessible for many, which could help alleviate inequality.



The D i a m o n d Is sue

Tigers hope for third straight NCAA regional berth BY ISAAC BOURNE Sports Editor

The Ouachita baseball team begins yet another season following their second-straight NCAA Regional Tournament appearance under head coach Luke Howard. With the return of a significant amount of last season’s roster, fans are hoping for yet another trip to Warrensburg, Mo. in May. Coach Howard, on the other hand, is determined to keep his team grounded in the moment. “[1-0] goes up in the dugout every day,” Howard explained. “1-0 is our whole motto. That’s [at] practice. That’s no matter what we’re doing.” Following a road trip to Joplin, Mo., the Tigers begin conference play on the road at Northwestern

Oklahoma State, who themselves have gotten off to a quick 7-1 start. “It’s a great challenge for our program to go on the road [and] see what we’re made of here early [in the season],” Howard said. “We don’t act like we have anything figured out yet, and I believe no matter how good you are, if you keep that mindset and stay humble, you’re going to be alright.” Starting out 3-3 this season, the Tigers beat Northeastern State twice in Hot Springs before picking up a win against No. 23 in the nation Missouri Southern to start their season. Despite an 0-3 effort in Joplin against the Lions on the road, they still go into conference play with three premiere wins under their belt. The biggest returners at the plate this season are highlighted by the

senior trio of outfielder G Allen, catcher Michael Quinones and right-handed pitcher Dustin Bermudez, the three combining for 35 home runs and 218 hits last season. “It could be 12 to 13 guys rotating with the core group of Mike, DB and G,” Howard said. “Those guys are kind of solidified in there just from the years that they’ve had in the past, but other than that, it’s kind of just mixing and matching.” Outside of the main three, sophomore infielder Cole Bedwell, junior outfielder Isaac Nowell, senior outfielder Tallon Heine, senior catcher Cade Burris and freshman infielder Wesley Scott have played significant time in the lineup so far this season. On the mound, senior Cooper Timmons and junior Luke House are back from last season while

Senior catcher and outfielder Mikey Quinones begins another successful season as a starter for this OBU Tiger baseball squad. (photo by Baseline Photography)

junior Chase Oberle, a community college transfer, has put up an impressive season so far while leading the team in innings pitched. With many returners on this promising Tiger squad, their No. 7 ranking in the Central region to start the season is only expected to

rise behind the leadership of their veteran players. Their home opener will be a Feb. 23 doubleheader against the Southwestern Oklahoma State Bulldogs at Rab Rodgers Field, and Tiger fans are eager to see the team in action in Arkadelphia again for another season.

Tigers enter Jeff Jackson era to start 2023 season BY ISAAC BOURNE Sports Editor

A new era of Ouachita softball has begun with the introduction of new head coach Jeff Jackson, who took the reins of a young Tiger squad. Jackson and found past success at the 18U and high school levels, takes his coaching skills to the college level for the first time in his career. “[It has been] absolutely amazing from the standpoint of the girls that were on the team, none of which I recruited,” Jackson said. “I met them all either digitally or in person this summer, and they are amazing kids that are just working

their tails off, so that piece of it has been wonderful.” Despite a 1-5 start to the season, close losses early to Missouri S&T (5-7) and Northeastern State (13-16) set the stage for a big win, Jackson’s first at the college level, at home against Delta State where the Tigers took a 6-4 victory. Now, the team heads on the road to Oklahoma City to finish their pre-conference slate at the Raising Cane’s Softball Festival, where the Tigers will play four games in the span of two days as a final test before starting conference play. As for its players, the team brings back very few starters from last season, with senior infielder

Erin Williams, sophomore outfielder Katelyn Provence and senior infielder Lauren Lester returning as the only 3 returning starters from last season. Fortunately, the team has found tremendous freshmen success from infielder Baylee King, along with outfielders Emily Reed and Jordyn Merrett. “Because a lot of [our] girls were so young, the first time a lot of girls stepped on the field in college was Friday night [Feb. 2], so we were able to see who is ready and who needs some work,” Jackson said. “The first thing I did was challenge our seniors to take charge, and they did a phenomenal job setting expectations for the freshmen.”

Junior Tuesday Melton pitches in the Tigers home opener. (Photo by Sarah Dean)

On the mound, the Tigers return all three of their main pitchers from last season to bring a large amount of valuable experience to the bullpen. Senior Maggi Huddleston, senior Hannah Hunter and junior Tuesday Melton lead a strong pitching attack that has been and will continue to be a large asset to coach Jackson in his first season.

Despite a few growing pains to start the season, the Ouachita Tiger softball team is starting to come together just before GAC conference play. Behind the leadership of the few upperclassmen remaining on the team, the Tigers have grown from experience and are only poised to improve as the season goes on.

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