COMING UP: Saint Louis softball (10-9) plays doubleheaders against a non-conference region rival and an Atlantic 10 Conference foe this week. The Billikens travel to Carbondale, Ill., to face Southern Illinois (10-13) Thursday, March 21, in a twinbill starting at 2:30 p.m. SLU opens A-10 play Sunday, March 24, with a home doubleheader against St. Bonaventure (3-17). First pitch at the Billiken Sports Center is slated for noon.
LAST WEEK: Saint Louis was 2-2 last week. After falling 6-3 to Bradley in their home opener March 13, the Billikens defeated Loyola Chicago (8-2) and Western Michigan (4-3) and were topped by Illinois (6-4) at the Fighting Illini Classic March 15-16.
BILLIKEN STATISTICAL LEADERS: Jessica Van Nostrand leads Saint Louis in batting average (.306), hits (19), doubles (five) and RBIs (12). Jessica Buschjost has team highs of 12 runs and 12 stolen bases (12 attempts) and is second to Van Nostrand in hits (15). Laura Bohning bats .279, and her team-high .512 slugging percentage is aided by two home runs. Lindsay Friedman has team highs of three home runs and a .393 on-base percentage in addition to eight RBIs and seven steals in eight tries. Alyson Brand has driven in 10 runs and leads the Bills with 12 walks, while Katie Kroeger bats .304. In the circle, Brianna Lore leads the way with a 6-6 record and a 3.13 ERA. Laney Kneib owns a 4-3 ledger.
WALKING INTO THE RECORD BOOK: With 65 career walks, Alyson Brand needs just three more free passes to become the Billikens' all-time leader in that category.
TRENDING UPWARD: Jessica Van Nostrand has hit safely in nine of her last 12 games and is batting .366 (15-for-41) during that stretch, lifting her season batting average from .190 to .306. Van Nostrand has not struck out in 36 consecutive plate appearances. Laura Bohning has raised her season average from .143 to .279 by hitting safely in seven of her last 10 games (10-for-29, .345), while Katie Kroeger has five hits in her last 10 at-bats to improve from .154 to .304. In the circle, Brianna Lore has a 1.33 ERA in her last eight outings (42 innings), lowering her season mark from 4.40 to 3.13 while winning five of six decisions to even her record at 6-6. Lore allowed just five extra-base hits over that 42-inning span.
FLAWLESS IN THE FIELD: The Billikens have played strong defense in recent outings. SLU has not committed an error in seven of its last 10 games, improving its fielding percentage from .932 to .957 during that 10-game span.
BURNING UP THE BASEPATHS: Saint Louis ranks 35th in the nation in stolen bases per game (1.68). Jessica Buschjost, who is 12-for-12 in steal attempts, ranks 27th individually with a 0.63 per-game average. The Billikens are 32-for-39 in steal attempts for an .821 success rate.
POSITIVE PITCHING: Billiken pitchers are performing well in two key categories. Saint Louis hurlers have allowed only seven home runs in 19 games and are issuing just 2.89 walks per seven innings.
CLIMBING THE CAREER LADDER: Several current Billikens rank among the top 10 on various SLU career statistical lists. Alyson Brand is tied for first in sacrifice flies (six), tied for second in walks (65), third in RBIs (78), fifth in home runs (12) and chances (829), and seventh in putouts (679). Jessica Buschjost is second in stolen bases (80) and seventh in runs (81). Laura Bohning is fourth in home runs (13); Jessica Van Nostrand ranks seventh in assists (279); and Lindsay Friedman is sixth in hit by pitch (15).
THIS WEEKEND'S OPPONENTS:
Southern Illinois - The Salukis average 5.2 runs per game. Morgan Barchan tops the SIU batting average chart with a .394 mark, while Jayna Spivey bats .328 with team highs of six home runs and 19 RBIs. Meredith Wilson has four homers and 16 RBIs, and Taylor Orsburn has driven in 14 runs. Brittney Lang and Alyssa Wunderlich have tallied six and four pitching victories, respectively, and Lang has two shutouts and two saves.St. Bonaventure - The Bonnies open A-10 action with single games at Butler March 22 and 23 before facing the Billikens. Emily McDonough owns a team-high .323 batting average, followed by Ashley Snider (.291), Jessenia Andujar (.286) and Katie Sinclair (.286). Sinclair and Snider have four and three home runs, respectively, and are tied for the team lead with 11 RBIs apiece. A team-high 13 walks have helped Snider post a .429 on-base percentage. Carly Bilchak has picked up two pitching victories.