Salukis return to Sunshine State for Under Armour Classic this weekend

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    March 6, 2014

    Under Armour Classic
     Dates March 7-9, 2014
     Schedule Friday, March 7 (Clearwater, Fla.)
    10:45 a.m. CST -  vs. Boston University (4-5)
    1:15 p.m. CST - vs. Boston College (9-7)
    Saturday, March 8 (Clearwater, Fla.)
    12:45 p.m. CST - vs. Saint Joseph's (3-4)
    3:00 p.m. CST - vs. Providence (0-0)
    Sunday, March 9 (Tampa, Fla.)
    10:00 a.m. CST - vs. Fordham (7-12)
     Location Eddie C. Moore Complex - Clearwater, Fla. (Friday & Saturday)
    USF Softball Stadium - Tampa, Fla. (Sunday)
     Game Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader
     Season Stats Southern Illinois | MVC
    Boston University | Boston College
    Saint Joseph's | Fordham 
     All-Time Series vs. Boston University: 0-0
    vs. Boston College: 1-0
    vs. Saint Joseph's: 0-0
    vs. Providence: 5-1
    vs. Fordham: 3-1 
     Last Meeting vs. Boston College: Feb. 27, 1999 (W, 2-1)
    vs. Providence: Feb. 14, 2010 (W, 5-3
    vs. Fordham: Feb. 9, 2013 (W, 4-0) 
     Social Media @SIU_Softball  | @SIU_Softball  | Saluki Athletics 

    By Tyler Wooten

    CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Saluki softball will make the return trip to the Sunshine State for the third time in four weeks this weekend for five games at the Under Armour Classic.

    SIU will play against Boston University (4-5) and Boston College (9-7) on Friday, Saint Joseph's (3-4), Providence (0-0) on Saturday and Fordham (7-12) on Sunday. Southern's contest against Fordham, though, has been moved to South Florida's softball stadium in Tampa, Fla., at 10 a.m. CST on Sunday.

    Saluki sophomore utility player Caylee Cook has been suspended for the first day of play in Florida for a violation of team rules.


    Southern went 2-1 at the relocated Coach B Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn. SIU beat Miami (Ohio) twice -- 9-0 on March 1 and 10-3 on March 2 -- and lost a close 4-0 contest to a solid Kansas team on March 1.

    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 Terriers stand at 4-5 on the season with three of their victories coming in a three-game stretch against Michigan State (11-4), Gardner-Webb (4-0) and Georgetown (6-3), each in Columbia, S.C. On offense BU has two bonafide hitters in Mandy Fernandez (.448) and Moriah Connolly (.400), who have both started all nine games for the Terries and have 27 hits, 13 RBIs and three triples combined. In the circle BU has two pitchers that have started four games apiece. Melainie Russell leads with a 1.98 ERA and a whopping 4.3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

    Of the five teams Southern will play in Florida, the Eagles hold the best record at 9-7 against stiff competition -- including a 7-3 loss at the hands of No. 1-ranked Florida. Offensively, the Eagles are led by Megan Cooley who is currently hitting .423 and getting on base more than half the time at .516. The Eagles also own two batting averages above .360 in Jessie Daulton (.366) and slugger Tory Soeer (.361, five HRs, 18 RBIs, 18 BBs). As a team BC is hitting .278. In the circle BC rides two workhorses in Nicole D'Argento (1.83 ERA) and Jordan Weed (7.81 ERA), who have 22 appearances and 15 starts and 69 strikeouts combined between them.

    The Hawks are 3-4 in 2014 with victories over Niagara, Iona and Hartford. SJU only bats .243 and has nearly as many stirkeouts (40) as hits (44), but the Hawks do get solid production out of consistent starters Madleine Brunck (.389), Maria Ficca (.357) and Nicole Oakase (.350). SJU has a team ERA of 2.75 but walks nearly as many batters as it strikes out and the SJU defense has given up 12 unearned runs. Liz Mendez sees the most time in the circle, with a 2-2 record in five appearances and four starts. Out of the regular pitchers, Mendez has the best ERA at 2.40 and opposing batters are only hitting .209 against her.

    Due to poor weather the Friars have yet to play a game in 2014. Providence returns seven starters and 12 letterwinners from a team that went 23-28-1 in 2013 en route to a seventh-place finish in the Big East. They return two players who started all 52 games last year, including first baseman Kristie Dederick, the returning team leader in RBI, doubles on-base percentage and walks.

    The Rams are 7-12 in 2014, hot off an NCAA tournament appearance in 2013. Offensively, Fordham is struggling at a .235 team average and only three batters above .300. A key factor into Fordham's offensive struggles are strikeouts, as the Rams have struck out 107 in 463 at-bats in 19 games -- opposed to 109 hits. In the circle Fordham leans on Michele Daubman, who has a 4-7 record in 11 appearances and 10 starts with a 4.09 ERA and an opposing batting average of .304.

    Senior catcher Allie VadeBoncouer has been no stranger to the art of hitting during her time at SIU, but her start to the 2014 season has been a special one. The senior native of Kankakee, Ill., has hit safely in five of her last six games -- which included a 4-for-5 line in two games vs. Miami (Ohio) that saw two doubles, one home run and five RBIs. On the season, she is third on the team at .310 but also has an unreal .517 slugging percentage and .512 on-base percentage -- the latter of which is helped out greatly by the fact that she has reached base in 12 of SIU's 14 games.

    Freshman Shaye Harre has not wasted any time in getting acclimated to collegiate softball. The native of nearby Nashville, Ill., has started all 14 of SIU's games and has made seven appearances and two starts as a pitcher. At the plate, she is currently hitting .225 with nine RBIs, two doubles, a triple and a three-run home run on March 2 vs. Miami to help out her cause as the starting pitcher in Southern's 10-3 victory over the Redhawks.

    Junior pitcher Katie Bertelsen is off to a great start in 2014 as SIU's most clutch pitcher either as a starter or coming in to help in relief. Bertelsen has a 4-2 record in nine appearances and seven starts in SIU's 14 games, with a 3.33 ERA in 40 innings pitched. Batter's are hitting .306 against her, but Bertelsen's ability to get out of the jam has helped Southern stay in the game countless times.

    The Saluki sophomores have avoided the dreaded sophomore slump with hot bats at the plate thus far in 2014. Two sophomore, Taylor Harris (.400) and Kelsey Gonzalez (.313), hold the top-two batting averages on the team. Four of SIU's five home runs can be credited to Saluki sophomores, as can six of its 20 doubles.

    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.

    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 522-262 overall. She is the second SIU coach and the eighth MVC coach to reach the 500-win milestone. Her career .667 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.