Notebook: Red Devils Ready to Play Closer to Home

Notebook: Red Devils Ready to Play Closer to Home
Note: This story has been updated to reflect Saturday's postponement against Rose-Hulman. The doubleheader against the Fightin' Engineers has been rescheduled for Sunday, March 25 at noon in Eureka.
EUREKA, Ill. -- The Eureka College softball team's return to action in the Central Time Zone begins Thursday when the Red Devils make their annual trip to USCAA Robert Morris-Springfield for a 2 p.m. doubleheader. 
Eureka rolled to seven victories in eight games last week in its seventh trip to the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. The 7-1 record equaled EC's 2016 start as the Red Devils' best record through eight games since 1990.
The Eureka offense hit .301 as a team, led by three players with an average of .458 or better -- Krysten Wallace (.550), Gabby Wood (.476) and Morgan Osborn (.458). Wallace wemt 11-for-20 and coaxed four walks to become the Red Devils' all-time leader in walks with 61. Osborn went 11-for-24 and led the team with seven RBI and 17 total bases while Wood went 10-for-21 with a pair of triples.
Kali George (.364), Courtney Kurtz (.320) and Kerrigan Dura (.308) also delivered contributions to the offense throughout the week and Erin Smith gave the Red Devils their first walk-off win since April 22 of last season when her two-run opposite-field single allowed Eureka to beat Penn College, 5-4, on March 5.
In the circle, the trio of Smith, George and Wood put up a 2.11 ERA with 37 strikeouts over 53.0 innings. Smith was especially solid, yielding only one earned run over 19.0 innings to pick up two wins with a 0.37 ERA. George earned three of the Red Devils' seven wins to run her career total to 39, six shy of tying Tina Sharp (1993-96) for the program's all-time record. She also moved into seventh place on the Red Devils' all-time strikeout list with 194 and became just the third pitcher in Eureka softball history to throw 400.0 career innings.
The Red Devils will play their first true road games of the season Thursday in a 2 p.m. non-conference doubleheader at USCAA Robert Morris-Springfield.
The Eagles own a 1-4 overall record through their first five games, earning their only victory of the campaign in a doubleheader split at NCAA Division II Tuskegee (Ala.) on March 4. Thursday's twin bill with the Red Devils will be RMU's first home games of the season.
Eight different players have made at least 10 plate appearances for RMU. Sophomore first baseman Savannah Anzaldua has been the team's top hitter with a .462/.563/.615 slash line and a pair of doubles. The Eagles have hit .210 as a team in 119 at-bats. The Eagles' pitching staff owns an 8.81 ERA through 27.0 innings. Freshman Maddie Perrine leads the way with six strikeouts and a 1.62 ERA in four relief appearances.
Boyd Nowicki is in his sixth season directing the Eagles. The Mukwonago, Wis. native is a 1991 graduate of Morrison Tech (Ill.). Stacey Sparks, who served as Eureka's head coach from 2010 through 2012, is an assistant on the RMU staff.
Eureka and Robert Morris-Springfield have met 30 times in softball since the 2004 season. The Red Devils own a 16-14 lead in the all-time series and won three out of four last season, including a doubleheader split in Springfield on April 12. EC has seized control of the series since Debi Neff's arrival, winning 14 of its last 16 against the Eagles since April 3, 2013.
The main campus of Robert Morris University in located in Chicago, Ill., but the institution has multiple campuses throughout Illinois. The combined undergraduate enrollment of the locations is approximately 7,200. The Springfield campus competes as a member of
the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.
Eureka is 4-1 when opening the home schedule under sixth-year head coach Debi Neff. The Red Devils blanked Robert Morris-Springfield 11-0 in last season's opener.
Overall, Eureka has won six of its last eight home openers.