For Immediate Release
May 5, 2010
Softball Set For First SLIAC Tournament Appearance
EUREKA, Ill. – The Eureka College softball team will appear in its first-ever St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament starting Thursday when the third-seeded Red Devils play second-seeded Fontbonne at 5 p.m. at ABC Park in the St. Louis suburb of St. Ann, Mo. The top four teams in the SLIAC regular season, excluding new league member Spalding, qualify for the annual tournament.
After starting the season with 10 losses in its first 11 non-conference games, Eureka (12-19) has posted an 11-9 record since splitting a pair of games on March 27. The Red Devils finished the SLIAC portion of the 2010 schedule with a 9-6 record, a five-win improvement from 2009 and easily the best conference record for Eureka since the Red Devils joined the nine-team conference prior to the 2007 season. The Red Devils knocked off 2010 SLIAC regular season champion Webster on April 10 in Eureka, the first-ever SLIAC win for the Red Devils over the Gorloks, who have won or shared the regular season SLIAC title each of the last four seasons.
“I am really proud of the girls and the way they have turned things around the last month of the season,” first-year head coach Stacey Sparks said. “We are extremely excited for the opportunity to play in the tournament and feel we can play with and beat any team in the conference.”
Senior catcher Cathy Kalnicky (Bolingbrook, Ill./Plainfield H.S.) has carried the load for the Eureka offense this season, hitting .447 with three home runs and 20 RBI in 25 starts. Her three home runs this season rank second on the team and have extended her own Eureka career record to 13. She ranks among the top-five in the SLIAC in batting average (third), slugging percentage (.658, fifth) and on-base percentage (.517, third).
Freshman outfielder and leadoff hitter Lauren Kao (Normal, Ill./Normal Community H.S.) has been another strong component in the Eureka lineup. A two-sport athlete at Eureka (volleyball), Kao ranks fourth in the SLIAC with 67 total bases and currently leads the conference with 11 doubles and five triples. Her four home runs lead the Red Devils and rank in a fifth-place tie among SLIAC hitters.
The Red Devils have also received solid seasons from sophomore shortstop Carissa Alig (Metamora, Ill./Metamora H.S.) and sophomore second baseman Tomi Tapper (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria H.S.). Both players have started all 31 games as Eureka’s middle infield and combined for 51 hits, 25 runs, seven doubles, two home runs and 28 runs batted in.
In the pitching circle, senior Kelsey Brandt (Morton, Ill./Morton H.S.) and sophomore Sarah Jesse (Mackinaw, Ill./Bloomington H.S.) have split time during the season and have won six starts apiece. Brandt has tossed a league-high 111.1 innings during the season and ranks third among SLIAC pitchers in earned run average (3.84), batting average against (.299) and strikeouts (88).
The SLIAC will use a double-elimination format for the tournament. All four teams will start play at 5 p.m. Thursday as the conference will utilize two playing fields at ABC Park.
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