Salukis open MVC season at home against UNI on Saturday and Sunday

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    Head Coach Kerri Blaylock
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    March 14, 2014

    vs. Northern Iowa (11-6, 0-0 MVC)
     Dates March 15-16, 2014
     Times Saturday, March 15
    Game 1: 12 p.m.
    Game 2: 2 p.m.
    Sunday, March 16
    Game 3: 12 p.m. 
     Location Carbondale, Ill. -- Charlotte West Stadium
     Live Stats
     Live Stream Saluki All-Access
     Game Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader
     Season Stats Southern Illinois | Northern IowaMVC
     All-Time Series SIU leads UNI, 69-28
     Streak UNI, W3
     Social Media @SIU_Softball  | @SIU_Softball  | Saluki Athletics 

    The Last Meeting
    Southern Illinois4
    Northern Iowa6
    May 9, 2013
    Omaha, Neb.
    Salukis' season ends at MVC Tournament
    The fifth-seeded Salukis opened the tournament with a 7-1 win over No. 8 Wichita State before falling to No. 4 Northern Iowa 6-4 later in the day in the quarterfinals.

    By Tyler Wooten

    CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Saluki softball is set to open the Missouri Valley Conference season at home against Northern Iowa this Saturday and Sunday at Charlotte West Stadium.


    The Salukis will take on Northern Iowa to open its conference season at home this Saturday and Sunday at Charlotte West Stadium. This will be the first set of home games for Southern in 2014 after starting the first 20 games on the road (1-3 away, 9-7 neutral). SIU holds an all-time advantage of 69-28 over the Panthers, but the current streak belongs to UNI after they swept the season series in 2013.

    Southern came away with a huge 5-4 win over Central Florida on March 11, against one of the most dominant pitching staffs in the country. Senior Taylor Orsburn helped SIU with a two-run homer, but the remainder of Southern's scoring came off of UCF mistakes. Starting pitcher Shaye Harre took the victory in the circle to improve to 3-2 in her freshman campaign. Harre threw six scoreless innings against the Knights before UCF started a rally. With the winning run on second, though, junior Katie Bertelsen shut the door for her second save of the year and the ninth of her career. Entering the game, UCF's pitching held opponents to 1.8 runs per game and a .199 batting average.

    The Panthers come into Carbondale at 11-6 overall, the product of a balanced attack on offense and stellar starting pitching from Jamie Fisher. Fisher, who stands at 6-4, has thrown seven complete games with two shutouts and the fourth-highest ERA in the MVC of pitchers with at least 13 appearances at 2.62. Fisher also has the second-best opponent batting average (2.26), the fourth-most strikeouts (54) and the third-most strikeouts per game (6.16) in the Valley. The Panthers are no slouches on offense, either, with a .278 team batting average led by Rikki Alcaraz (.333/.608/.417), Julia Hunter (.322/.559/.385) and Kristin Lock (.289/.622/.319), who have each played in at least 15 of UNI's 17 games.

    SIU's offense has been off the charts in the last two weeks, which saw Southern go 5-4 in nine games of competition. In those last nine games, SIU is hitting .311, slugging .469, and getting on base at a clip of .415. In that same time frame, SIU has seven of its nine home runs, 17 of its 33 doubles and 45 of its 85 RBIs in 2014. Southern's offense was paced by .400 hitters in Taylor Orsburn and Kalyn Harker. Seniors Allie VadeBoncouer (.696) and Jayna Spivey (.567) posted high slugging percentages, as did freshman Shaye Harre (.667). Combined, the trio hit 11 doubles, four home runs and knocked in 28 RBIs.

    Freshman Shaye Harre has not wasted any time in getting acclimated to collegiate softball. The native of nearby Nashville, Ill., has started all 20 of SIU's games and is 3-2 in 11 appearances and four starts as a pitcher -- including her last start, a win over UCF. She currently has one complete game shutout (Providence, W, 8-0), only 13 shutouts off the all-time lead at SIU held by her cousin Amy Harre. At the plate, she is currently hitting .276 with a team-leading 20 RBIs, five doubles, a triple and two home runs. Harre ranks second in the MVC in total RBIs and RBIs per game (1.00).

    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 seven of her last 11 games and reached base safely in 14 of her 17 games played. She currently ranks third on Southern's roster with a .318 batting average, is tied for the lead with a .500 slugging percentage and leads all Salukis with a .500 on-base percentage. Her on-base percentage also ranks second in the MVC, helped greatly by her 10 walks and the six times she's been hit by a pitch in 2014.

    Senior Jayna Spivey has not slowed down in her senior year at SIU, cementing her role as Southern's most consistent hitter. She currently stands at fifth on the team with a .290 batting average and leads SIU in doubles with seven -- three of which came just this past weekend. She now has 28 career doubles, which is good for 10th all-time at SIU. She also ranks fourth all-time in home runs (30), and tied for fourth in RBIs (124).

    The Saluki sophomores have avoided the dreaded sophomore slump with hot bats at the plate thus far in 2014. Sophomore Kelsey Gonzalez ranks second on the team with a .327 batting average. Three of SIU's nine home runs in 2014 can be attributed to Saluki sophomores Caylee Cook (two) and Taylor Harris (one).

    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 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.).

    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 525-265 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.

    SALUKI NEWS ONLINE is the official website for SIU Athletics. It is the best source for up-to-date information on the Saluki softball team. Rosters, box scores, cumulative statistics, pre-game notes and other materials are available on the site. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read PDF files.

    Coverage for every Saluki softball game is available online though Saluki All-Access at A live audio stream will be available for every game and live video will be available for all home games. Saluki All-Access also has on-demand content for all 18 Saluki sports.