BILLIKENS INDOORS TO BEGIN SEASON
• Saint Louis softball plays five games on opening weekend, Feb. 8-10, in the UNI-Dome Classic, hosted by the University of Northern Iowa and played indoors at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
• The Billikens open against South Dakota State Friday at 10:15 a.m. and face the Jackrabbits again Saturday at 8 a.m. before taking on host team Northern Iowa at 12:30 p.m. SLU battles Toledo (9:30 a.m.) and Drake (11:45 a.m.) on Sunday.
• Live stats are available for every game, and two of the Billikens’ contests – Northern Iowa and Drake – will be video streamed live. Links for those features can be found on the Tournament Central page, which can be accessed by clicking here.
A LOOK AT THE BILLIKENS
• Saint Louis finished 28-29 overall and 11-10 (fifth place) in the Atlantic 10 Conference a season ago.
• The Billikens were selected to finish fourth in this season’s A-10 race by the league’s head coaches.
• SLU welcomed back 12 players, including seven position starters and two pitchers, from their 2018 team.
• Among the returnees is sophomore first baseman Sadie Wise (.347, school-record 16 HR, 47 RBI), who last year became the first freshman in program history to earn first-team All-Conference honors and selection to an All-Region team (third team). Wise, who played right field last season, also was a top-25 finalist for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Freshman of the Year award.
• Sophomore center fielder Kat Lane (.301, 15 SB) and sophomore catcher Alyssa Chavez (.262, 7 HR, 21 RBI) joined Wise on the A-10 All-Rookie team, giving the Billikens three All-Rookie selections for the first time.
• Additional returning starters are senior left fielder Lauren Lomax, senior second baseman Mackenzie Lawson, senior catcher/second baseman Kaylyn Breitbach and sophomore shortstop Maria Connell.
• A pair of right-handers, senior Kallen Loveless and junior Kaylea Chappelle, return to the pitching staff.
• The Billikens’ roster features six newcomers. Sophomore pitcher/outfielder Aubrey Hacke, a left-handed transfer from Omaha, was the 2018 Summit League Freshman of the Year. SLU also added freshmen Kelsey Etling (catcher), Allie Herron (infielder), Gabbie Kowalik (outfielder), Kristi Stevenson (infielder) and Chloe Wendling (pitcher).
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENTS
• South Dakota State – Led by Summit League Coach of the Year Krista Wood, the Jackrabbits were 37-18 overall and 10-4 (second place in regular season and conference tournament) in the Summit League last season. They finished second in the National Invitational Softball Championship. Key returning players – Senior IF Ali Herdliska (All-Region first team), senior OF Julia Andersen (All-Conference first team, All-Region second team).
• Northern Iowa – The 2018 Panthers finished 26-26 overall and 11-14 (tied for sixth) in the Missouri Valley Conference. Key returning players – Junior SS Sammey Bunch (All-Conference first team), junior OF Olivia Brooks (All-Conference second team).
• Toledo – The Rockets posted records of 35-23 overall and 16-7 (tied for first, West Division) in the Mid-American Conference a year ago. Toledo earned a bid to the National Invitational Softball Championship. Key returning players – Senior P Kailey Minarchick (All-Region third team, All-Conference first team).
• Drake – With seven returning starters, the Bulldogs are picked to repeat as Missouri Valley Conference champions. Last year, Drake went 45-12 overall and 24-1 in the MVC, won the conference tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament Eugene Regional final. Key returning players – Senior P Nicole Newman (top-50 watch list for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year; 2018 All-America third team, MVC Pitcher of the Year), junior IF Mandi Roemmich (All-Region second team, MVC Most Valuable Player), junior IF Sarah Maddox (All-Region second team, All-Conference first team), senior IF Taryn Pena (All-Conference first team).
The Billikens are idle from competition next weekend. They resume tournament play Friday-Sunday, Feb. 22-24, at the Lady Demon Classic in Natchitoches, Louisiana, where they will face Arkansas-Pine Bluff (twice), Houston Baptist (twice) and host team Northwestern State.