SOFTBALL PREVIEW: Saint Louis at EKU Invitational

WHEN: Friday-Sunday, March 9-11, 2018
WHERE: Gertrude Hood Field • Richmond, Kentucky
OPPONENTS (record): Northern Illinois (4-11), Western Carolina (4-11), Akron (1-12-1), Eastern Kentucky (11-5)

BILLIKEN TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (Central times)
Friday – Northern Illinois (9 a.m.)
Friday – Western Carolina (4:30 p.m.)
Saturday – Akron (9 a.m.)
Saturday – Eastern Kentucky (11:30 a.m.)
Sunday – Akron (8:30 a.m.) 

LIVE STATS (same link for all games)

A LOOK AT THE BILLIKENS (click here for SLU’s statistics)
• Saint Louis (6-8) faces teams from the Mid-American Conference, the Southern Conference and the Ohio Valley Conference at this weekend’s EKU Invitational.
• The Billikens won their most recent meeting with Northern Illinois, 12-7 in 2016, to take a 4-3 series lead. SLU is 1-1 vs. Akron (last meeting 2011) and 1-4 vs. Eastern Kentucky, dropping a pair of 4-2 decisions to the Colonels last year. The Billikens are facing Western Carolina for the first time.
Alyssa Chavez (.421) and Sadie Wise (.333) are SLU’s top two hitters through 14 games. Chavez also leads the team with five multiple-hit games, and Wise is next with four.
• Chavez has hit safely in 11 of her 13 games and is the toughest Billiken to strike out, fanning just once every 14.3 plate appearances (three times in 43 plate appearances).
Allie Macfarlane was named the Feb. 26-March 4 Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Week by College Sports Madness. Macfarlane batted .375 at the Ole Miss Classic last weekend to boost her season mark to .319. She leads Saint Louis in doubles (five), RBIs (10) and two-out RBIs (six), and her current eight-game hitting streak is the team’s longest this season. Macfarlane has hit safely in 12 of 14 games.
• The Billikens are 4-2 since Lauren Lomax was inserted into the leadoff spot. Lomax has hit .292 at the top of the order to raise her season average to .277. She has hit safely in seven of her last eight games.
Maddie Baalman has a 1.58 ERA and a .193 opponents’ batting average over her last seven appearances (40 innings). Baalman has allowed only 28 hits, and just two for extra bases, during that stretch.
Alyssa Tarquinio has hit safely in six of her last eight games, going 8-of-28 (.286) to add 72 points to her season batting average.
• Saint Louis has been strong late in games. The Billikens are 6-1 when leading after five innings, 4-0 when leading after six.
Alyssa Chavez was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Week for her performance at the Louisiana Tech Invitational. Billiken players have earned two of the first three Rookie of the Week nods; Sadie Wise was the first honoree of the season.
• Chavez and Kat Lane were selected to the Louisiana Tech Invitational All-Tournament team.

THIS WEEK’S OPPONENTS
Northern Illinois – Has a 4-5 record since beginning the season 0-6 … played five games vs. Big Ten Conference opponents … among the returning players are senior catcher/infielder Bekah Harnish and junior outfielder Jenny Van Geertry, who made the 2017 All-Conference first and second teams, respectively … 33-21 overall and 15-9 (second, West Division) in the Mid-American Conference last season. STATISTICS
Western Carolina – Has faced nationally ranked opponents Georgia, Auburn and James Madison … two second-team All-Conference players – junior catcher/utility Madison Armstrong and junior outfielder Hunter Gibbons – returned from last year’s team … 18-30 overall and 6-11 (sixth) in the Southern Conference in 2017. STATISTICS
Akron – Sophomore left-handed pitcher Lexie Handley is back after earning second-team All-Conference honors and the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year award … 27-30 overall and 12-12 (fourth, East Division) in the MAC a year ago. STATISTICS
Eastern Kentucky – Enters the EKU Invitational on a five-game winning streak … carries a 2.42 team ERA, led by sophomore right-hander Mollie Paulick (4-1, 1.78), a member of the 2017 Ohio Valley Conference All-Newcomer team … senior outfielder Paige Murphy (two-time All-Conference first team) is hitting .460 with four home runs and 15 RBIs … 27-31 overall and 11-9 (sixth, OVC) last season. STATISTICS