Softball Notebook: Regular Season Enters Final Two Weeks

Photo courtesy of Cory McCain.
Photo courtesy of Cory McCain.

EUREKA, Ill. – The Eureka College softball team will begin a stretch of 12 games in the final 11 days of the regular season on Wednesday, playing a pair of St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opponents and taking a non-conference road trip to Harris-Stowe on Thursday in St. Louis.

ABOUT EUREKA

The Red Devils own a 15-11 overall record and a 5-5 mark against SLIAC opponents. Eureka is on track to finish consecutive seasons with a winning record for the first time since earning four winning seasons in a row from 1999 through 2002.

Last Tuesday, Kali George smashed her second career home run and pitched a complete-game one-hitter in the circle, lifting the Red Devils to an 8-0 victory over NAIA Harris-Stowe in the opener of a doubleheader. EC scored a single run in the first inning of game two to win the nightcap, 1-0.

Twenty-four hours later on Wednesday, Eureka split a non-conference doubleheader at USCAA Robert Morris-Springfield. Lexi Litwiller had three hits in an 8-4 victory over the Eagles in game one, but a two-run double from Savannah Anzaldua in the first inning of game two doomed the Red Devils in a 2-1 defeat.

Eureka evened its conference record at 5-5 on Saturday when Bridget Bankes ripped her sixth career home run to highlight the Red Devils' 11-hit attack in game one and George drove in four runs as part of a 3-for-3 performance in the nightcap, sending EC to a Senior Day sweep of Blackburn. Eureka won the opener, 12-2 in five innings, and also won game two in five innings, 9-1.

The Red Devils boast one of the SLIAC's best offenses, ranking third with a .313 batting average, first with a .414 on-base percentage and fourth with a .442 slugging percentage. Sophomore shortstop Kerrigan Dura leads the attack with a .456 batting average (36-for-79). Litwiller (.370), George (.354), Bankes (.338) and Morgan Osborn give the Red Devils five every-day starters with averages of .300 or better. George leads the team with 25 RBI while Dura, Litwiller and Osborn share the team lead with 22 runs scored.

George earned three pitching victories last week, lowering her season ERA to 2.44. Freshman Erin Smith also collected two wins last week and has a season ERA of 3.20. The duo, along with sophomore Kylie Whightsil, has highlighted a pitching staff that has a team ERA of 2.89, on pace to be Eureka's lowest since the 2013 season.

EUREKA AT MacMURRAY (Wednesday DH at 3 p.m.)

The Red Devils will take their first SLIAC road trip since April 9 when EC travels to Jacksonville, Ill. on Wednesday for a 3 p.m. doubleheader with MacMurray.

The Highlanders are 1-24 this season and 0-8 against SLIAC opponents. MC's lone victory of 2017 was an 18-8 win at Knox on March 24. MacMurray has been swept in conference doubleheaders by Westminster, Fontbonne, Greenville and Principia.

MacMurray hits .264/.326/.325 as a team. Junior outfielder Amanda Petersen (.352) and sophomore outfielder Calynn LaGesse (.342) are the Highlanders' top offensive threats. MC has been outscored 249-78 this season, including an 85-18 margin in conference action.

The group of Haley Stewart, Kiersten Hann and Dakotah Quertermous has combined for a 9.03 ERA in 133.1 innings this spring. The Highlanders have issued 142 walks.

Samantha Valentine, a 2008 graduate of Western Illinois, is in her second season as head coach of the Highlanders. She owns previous coaching experience at Brown County High School and played collegiately for the Leathernecks.

MacMurray has been Eureka's most frequent softball opponent over the last two decades, as the two squads have met 47 times since 1995. Eureka leads the series in that time frame, 36-10-1. The Red Devils and Highlanders have split their last eight matchups since 2013, but EC won both games of a twin bill last season.

EUREKA AT HARRIS-STOWE (Thursday DH at 2 p.m.)

The Red Devils will play NAIA Harris-Stowe in a doubleheader for the second time in 10 days when EC visits the Hornets for a 2 p.m. twin bill Thursday in St. Louis. The games are scheduled to be played at Affton Sports Complex, an 11-mile drive to the southwest of the HSSU campus.

The Hornets have a 1-23 overall record and will visit Hannibal-LaGrange on Tuesday before the Red Devils visit St. Louis on Thursday. HSSU defeated SLIAC member Iowa Wesleyan on March 22, 3-2.

HSSU has been outscored 239-18 this season, according to the latest NAIA statistical update. Alix Adams leads the offense with a .368 average, but the Hornets hit .177 as a team.

Courtney Norris is the top Harris-Stowe pitcher, throwing 69.1 innings in 2017. She owns an 8.78 ERA and opponents hit .414 against.

The 2017 season is Shontele Allen's first as head coach.

Eureka has won all four of its games against Harris-Stowe, including last week's doubleheader sweep in Eureka. 

FONTBONNE AT EUREKA (Saturday DH at 1 p.m.)

Eureka will close the week with a home doubleheader against longtime SLIAC power Fontbonne at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The Griffins lost 10 of their 12 contests last month, but have recovered to win nine of their first 10 league contests to own first place in the current league standings. FU sits at 11-11 overall and is scheduled to play road doubleheaders against Washington (Mo.), Webster and Greenville before visiting Eureka on Saturday. Fontbonne's twin bill against crosstown non-conference rival Washington on Tuesday kicks off a stretch of 12 straight road games in 12 days to close the regular season.

Fontbonne hits .313 as a team, but its .445 average in eight conference games leads the league. FU also slugs at a .547 clip in SLIAC competition. Sophomore Emelia Modglin (.456) and junior infielder Courtney Kedroski (.451) lead the charge for the offense that has outscored its conference opponents 88-30 this season.

Maddy Strickland owns a 4.91 ERA over 67.0 innings in the circle as Fontbonne's first pitching option. Diamond Thomas (3.25 ERA) and Brianna Durant (2.00 ERA) have combined to throw the other 75.1 innings in 2017.

Former NFCA All-American and 2015 Fontbonne graduate Danni Glixman is in her first season as head coach of the Griffins. The all-time FU leader in batting average, hits, RBI, doubles and slugging percentage won four SLIAC regular-season and tournament championships as a player.

Eureka will look to turn the tide in its series with Fontbonne. The Griffins have won 20 in a row over the Red Devils since the 2009 campaign and 23 of the last 25 since 2000, including two wins in St. Louis last season and a 2-1 victory that eliminated EC from the 2016 SLIAC Tournament. Eureka's last win over Fontbonne was a 4-0 decision on April 21, 2008.