(Update, 8:25 a.m., Wednesday: This story has been updated to reflect schedule changes.)
EUREKA, Ill. -- Following a 14-day break from game competition, the Eureka College softball team will begin a stretch of 30 games in 33 days when the Red Devils host doubleheaders this week against Robert Morris-Springfield, Greenville and Spalding. The scheduled contests are part of Eureka's season-long eight-game homestand.
EC will host RMU-Springfield in a Friday doubleheader at 2 p.m. Greenville will visit Saturday for two games beginning at noon, followed by two contests with Spalding in Eureka on Sunday beginning at noon.
The Red Devils are 4-4 this season after splitting eight contests as part of the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. The 2017 trip marked the sixth straight season the Red Devils have opened the campaign on the Atlantic Coast. EC is now 22-25 in North Myrtle Beach.
Eureka is hitting .297 as a team with a SLIAC-best .432 on-base percentage and a .396 slugging percentage. The Red Devils are scoring 7.3 runs per game.
Sophomore shortstop Kerrigan Dura is the team's top hitter with a .476 average (10-for-21) through eight contests. She also leads the Red Devils with a .593 on-base percentage and an .857 slugging percentage. Among players to have at least 3.1 plate appearances per contest, senior catcher Lexi Litwiller (.417) has put up a batting averages of .400 or better.
The EC pitching staff has combined for a 3.29 ERA and have limited batters to a league-best .267 batting average.
Junior Kali George (27.0 IP) and freshman Erin Smith (21.0 IP) have handled the bulk of the pitching responsibilities thus far. Smith has a 3.00 ERA, 16 strikeouts, two victories and a .227 batting average against. George has 3.11 ERA and one win.
LAST WEEK IN REVIEW
The Red Devils did not participate in game competition last week, but did receive a bit of good news last Monday. Kerrigan Dura was selected St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Hitter of the Week, according to an announcement from the league office.
Dura, who traveled to Myrtle Beach immediately following the Red Devils' NCAA women's basketball tournament game in Crestview Hills, Ky. on March 3, is now a three-time SLIAC Hitter of the Week recipient after earning the honor on March 21 and April 4 of last season.
ABOUT ROBERT MORRIS-SPRINGFIELD (RMU at EC, Friday DH at 2 p.m.)
The Eagles are 6-4 this season, but won six of eight contests at the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic in North Myrtle Beach. Prior to the spring trip, RMU dropped both games of a March 2 doubleheader at SLIAC member Webster in St. Louis.
Robert Morris-Springfield competes as a member of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. The Eagles are scheduled to play SLIAC members Greenville, MacMurray, Iowa Wesleyan and Principia later this season. EC will visit the Eagles in Springfield for a doubleheader on April 12.
Boyd Nowicki is in his fifth season as head coach at RMU-Springfield. He owns a 4-11 record in 15 previous meetings with EC. Former Eureka head coach Stacey Sparks (2009-12) is an assistant on the RMU staff. Sparks led the Red Devils to their first-ever SLIAC Tournament appearance in 2010.
SERIES VERSUS RMU
Eureka and Robert Morris-Springfield have played at least one contest in 12 of the last 13 seasons. The two squads have split 26 meetings since the 2004 season.
The Red Devils have dominated the Eagles since 2013, winning 11 of the last 12 games in the series. EC swept a doubleheader from RMU in Springfield last April.
The Red Devils have won their home opener in three of the last four seasons under head coach Debi Neff. EC is 17-5 in its first home game of the season since 1995.
ABOUT GREENVILLE (GC at EC, Saturday DH at noon)
The Panthers will enter the week with 5-7 overall record. GC played eight of its first 12 contest at the Tucson Invitational in Tucson, Ariz. Greenville earned wins over Wisconsin-Platteville (7-2) and Suffolk (14-4) during its trip to the desert. GC also split a Feb. 17 doubleheader at Brescia (Ky.) and took both games of a doublehader from Morthland on March 2 in Greenville.
Greenville will visit Monmouth on Friday before traveling to Eureka on Saturday.
As a team, GC is hitting .351 with a .405 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage. The Panthers' top hitter is junior infielder Kate Joliff, who has gone 19-for-36 (528) with four of the team's six home runs in 11 appearances. Senior infielder Tiffany Samsoe hits .514, while junior outfielder Jordan Wieland (.483) and junior utility player Becca Oldham (.459) each have eclipsed the .400 batting average plateau.
Four different Panthers have seen action in the pitching circle, three of which have tossed at least 10.0 innings. Senior Brianna Anderson is Greenville's first option, posting a 2-2 record and a 4.25 ERA in 26.1 innings. She has struck out 20 and walked 10.
The Panthers are less than a year removed from winning the 2016 SLIAC Tournament championship, ending Fontbonne's six-year run atop the league's annual postseason tournament.
Buddy Foster, the owner of 16 season on an NCAA Division I coaching staff, is in his first season directing the Panthers. Foster has been an assistant at Southern Illinois and Kansas and posted a 63-73 record in three seasons as the head coach at Bradley in Peoria.
SERIES VERSUS GREENVILLE
Eureka has played Greenville 45 times since 1995, owning a 26-19 record against the Panthers. Included in that stretch is a 13-7 record in games played on Eureka's home field.
GC has controlled the series recently, winning eight of the last 11 since May 2, 2011. The Red Devils and Panthers split last season's doubleheader in Greenville.
The 2017 campaign marks Eureka's 11th as a member of the SLIAC. The Red Devils own a 5-5 mark in 10 previous league openers and have started the conference schedule 1-0 in each of the last two seasons.
ABOUT SPALDING (SU at EC, Sunday DH at noon)
Through the season's first seven games, Spalding owns a 4-3 overall record. Like Eureka, the Golden Eagles opened the season at the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., but made the trip a week after EC. SU claimed wins over Albertus Magnus, Mansfield (twice) and split a March 19 doubleheader with Berea in Louisville.
The Golden Eagles will visit Blackburn on Saturday for the SLIAC opener before Sunday's twin bill in Eureka.
The 2017 season is the 11th in Louisville for head coach Art Williams. The Golden Eagles made three consecutive SLIAC Tournament appearances under Williams from 2013 through 2015.
SERIES VERSUS SPALDING
The Red Devils and Golden Eagles became SLIAC rivals prior to the 2010 campaign. Spalding owns an 8-5 mark against EC in that time frame, splitting six previous matchups in which Eureka was the home team.
Eureka has won five of the last eight, three of the last four and swept last season's twin bill in Louisville.
OTHER NEWS AND NOTES
Kerrigan Dura remains the program's all-time leader in batting average among players with at least 100 at-bats with a .545 career mark … Dura has seven RBI this season and has tied Tomi Tapper (2009-13) for eighth place on the all-time program list with 73 career RBI … Lexi Litwiller's career batting average is at .432 (67-for-155), second highest in program history behind Dura … Litwiller is hitting .471 (8-for-17) this season with runners on base and .600 (6-for-10) with runners in scoring position … Krysten Wallace has 86 career runs scored, ninth-most in program history … Wallace has also walked six times in 2017, bumping her career total to 43 to rank fourth all-time at Eureka.
Kali George has 27 career wins and needs one more victory to tie Angie Ballance (2001-04) and Amy Mulvaney (1998-01) for fifth place on Eureka's all-time list … George also has 140 career strikeouts, needing six more to crack the program's all-time top-10 list … Bridget Bankes is hitting .500 (4-for-8) with two runs scored during an active three-game hit streak … Erin Smith and Courtney Kurtz share the team lead with five two-out RBI … Erin Smith has limited opposing batters to a .128 batting average (6-for-47) when the bases are empty.