Leathernecks travel to Alabama State

Emily Ira right before she delivers the ball.

GOLEATHERNECKS.COM

Emily Ira right before she delivers the ball.

David Koier, Courier Staff

The Western Illinois Leathernecks softball was very close to going a second week in a row without playing a game. Last week, the team was left softball-less after the UT Martin Softball Classic was canceled due to projected weather and poor field conditions.

Just when the team thought it couldn’t get worse, their tournament for this weekend, the SIUE Cougar Classic, was canceled as well. It was announced this past Wednesday that due to the cancellation of the Cougar Classic, the softball team would participate in the Alabama State University Invitational over the weekend.

Head coach Beth Golitko told GoLeathernecks.com that the team is excited to play after having a week off. “We had plenty of time to work together, make some minor tweaks and adjustment to get ready for this weekend. We can’t wait to get out of the cold and to the warm Alabama weather against some great competition.”

The Leathernecks haven’t competed since Feb. 16 and 17 when they faced off against the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky. Western lost the series two games to one, but the Purple and Gold fought hard and even in their losses they made sure the games stayed close.

The Hilltoppers took game one 5-3, but Western fought back in game two and earned a 3-1 win with the help from sophomore Abby Carlin. Game three saw the Leathernecks fight back from a 5-0 deficit but couldn’t secure the win as Western Kentucky took the game, 7-6.

An offensive powerhouse for the Leathernecks so far this season is junior Sydney Hollings. Hollings leads the team in batting average (.348), doubles (5) and slugging .739. Hollings had herself a series when she batted .500 against Western Kentucky, hitting four of her five doubles that weekend.

Seniors Hailey Duwa and Payton Abbott picked up this season right where they left it last season, crushing the ball left and right. The pair of seniors have two home runs apiece and have two of the top on-base plus slugging percentages on the team with a 1.203 and .845 respectively. Abbott also leads the team in RBIs with nine, while Duwa has the second most with seven.

Getting some experience on the rubber this season is freshman Savannah Rodriguez. The freshman from Woodridge, Ill. has made three appearances this season, two of which have been starts. In her nine and two-thirds innings pitched, Rodriguez only allowed 10 hits and nine runs, while striking out nine in the process.

Speaking of great performances on the mound, senior pitcher Emily Ira is leading the Leathernecks on the rubber once more. Ira has made three starts this season and has pitched a total of 20 innings in that time.

Ira leads the Purple and Gold in strikeouts with 16, while also keeping her opponents’ batting average to a mere .219. In her final season at Western, Ira is looking to make a statement and lead her team to a Summit League title.

This weekend the Leathernecks will face off against Tennessee Tech (3-5), Eastern Kentucky (3-8), Southeastern Louisiana (9-8) and Alabama State (8-5).

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