Softball heads to Chattanooga for Coach B Classic

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    Feb. 28, 2014

    Coach B Classic
     Dates March 1-2, 2014
     Schedule Schedule (all times Eastern)
     Location Frost Stadium (Warner Park) -- Chattanooga, Tenn. 

    Southern Illinois
    Miami (Ohio)
    Murray State 

     Game Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader | Kansas Get Acrobat Reader
    Miami (Ohio) Get Acrobat Reader | Murray State Get Acrobat Reader
     Live Stats
     Season Stats Southern Illinois | MVC | Kansas | Miami (Ohio) | Murray State
     All-Time Series vs. Kansas: 4-4
    vs. Miami (Ohio): 7-3
    vs. Murray State: 1-0 
     Last Meeting vs. Kansas: 2010 (W, 3-1)
    vs. Miami (Ohio): 2012 (L, 3-2)
    vs. Murray State: 2012 (W, 4-2) 
     Social Media @SIU_Softball  | @SIU_Softball  | Saluki Athletics 

    By Tyler Wooten

    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --
    Saluki softball is set to hit the road for the Coach B Classic this weekend to take on Kansas, Miami (Ohio) and Murray State. Southern will technically be the host team, as the classic was moved from Carbondale to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Frost Stadium due to anticipated inclement weather.

    The Salukis were able to get two games in at the Jacksonville Invitational on Feb. 22, where they split a doubleheader vs. Bethune-Cookman (W, 12-2 (5)) and Jacksonville (L, 9-2).

    SIU returns 14 letterwinners, including seven position starters and two pitchers from the 2013 squad that went 25-27.

    Southern Illinois welcomed four freshmen to the 2014 roster in Shaye Harre (P/Nashville, Ill.), Merri Anne Patterson (OF/Lynville, Tenn.), Jessa Thomas (C/Johnston City, Ill.) and Brook Womack (INF, Chattanooga, Tenn.)

    The Jayhakws currently sit at 8-5 on the season after a successful 6-4 early run in neutral site tournaments. KU has three every-day starters that are hitting .340 or higher entering the Coach B Classic, including freshman Harli Riding -- who leads the team with a .390 average and is currently on a seven-game hitting streak. Riding also has a team-high on-base percentage of .500 thanks in part to being hit by seven pitches thus far -- the most on KU's roster. Junior pitcher Alicia Pille just tossed her first career no-hitter on Feb. 22 vs. Jackson State, which gives Kansas' pitching staff two current pitchers who have tossed a hitless game (Kelsey Kessler, 2013).

    The Redhawks sit at 3-5 overall heading into the Coach B Classic. MU features two hitters that are at .350 or higher right now (Kristy Arbour, .370; Allie Larrabee, .350), but as a team the Redhawks are hitting .268 through eight games. Miami is led by ace Paige Myers, who owns a 3-1 record and a 1.15 ERA in six appearances. Opposing hitters are only managing a .213 average against Myers, who is currently pitching at a 3.8-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

    The Racers stand at 7-5 on the season thanks to strong hitting from Cayla Levins (.414) and Alexa Becker (.385), who have each started all 12 games for MSU. As a team, the Racers are currently hitting .291. The Murray State pitching staff has a team-ERA of 3.33 and have two pitchers with three wins: Mason Robinson (3-1, 2.71 ERA) and CheyAnna Gaskey (3-3, 3.87). Although Gaskey holds two more losses, she has a wide team-lead in strikeouts with 35 compared to 18 walks.

    Senior second baseman Jayna Spivey has been named a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award, the organization Thursday. Spivey is a 2013 Capital One Academic All-District selection and First-Team Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete who holds a 3.761 cumulative GPA in biological sciences. The Rosiclare, Ill. recorded 44 RBI's in 2013 to lead the Missouri Valley Conference, which ties as the sixth-best season in SIU history. She also led SIU with 12 multi-RBI games and ranked second in the MVC with 11 home runs, which is tied for seventh in school history.

    The Saluki sophomores stepped up offensively in the first three weekends of play, as two of them hold the top batting averages on the team. At the Century Link Classic, Taylor Harris and Caylee Cook each recorded their first career homeruns while Kelsey Gonzalez recorded four hits including two doubles to record three runs. In Jacksonville, Gonzalez went on a tear again with a 2-for-3 outing vs. Bethune-Cookman that included an RBI. Taylor Harris leads SIU with a .417 average on the season with five hits in 12 at-bats, followed by Kelsey Gonzalez (.296).

    Southern Illinois has been picked picked fourth in the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. The Salukis received the coaches' fourth-place pick with 63 votes while Northern Iowa was picked as this year's preseason favorite.

    Southern was represented on the MVC Preseason All-Conference Team by senior Jayna Spivey and junior Meredith Wilson. Spivey brings an offensive spark to the Salukis as she finished tied for first in RBIs, second in home runs and fourth in two-out RBIs in the Conference. Wilson is a two-time All-MVC Sec¬ond Team member.

    SIU's game on April 10, 2013 at UT Martin marked SIU head coach Kerri Blaylock's 750th game as a head coach, all of which were at SIU. Blaylock also picked up her 500th career coaching win on March 21, 2013 with SIU's doubleheader sweep of Saint Louis. In her 15th season, the Saluki skipper sits at 520-261 overall. She is the second SIU coach and the eighth MVC coach to reach the 500-win milestone. Her career .665 winning percentage is the highest among the MVC's 500-win coaches.

    Spivey is looking work her way up the SIU record book for home runs in her final seaon. The senior's 11 home runs last season ranked second in the MVC and seventh in school history for a single season. She is up to 29 home runs for her career, which ranks fourth in SIU history.

    SIU set a new program record for grand slams in a season in 2013 with six through the end of the regular season. SIU's previous record of five grand slams came in 2010. Preseason All-Conference selection Meredith Wilson recorded two of SIU's grand slams last season.

    Southern led the MVC in drawing free bases last season with a combined 259 free bases via walks and hit-by-pitches. The Salukis ranked second behind Illinois State for the MVC's lead in bases on balls with 201, and the Salukis' 58 free bases on hit by pitches was the league leader by 19.

    The official Twitter of Saluki softball is @SIU_Softball. This account features team news as well as live in-game updates. Fans can also follow Saluki Athletics @SIUSalukis for news on all SIU sports.