Softball heads to UGA Classic Tournament



Hailey Duwa keeps her eye on the ball.

David Koier, Courier Staff

ATHENS, Ga. — The Western Illinois softball team will travel this weekend to participate in the UGA Classic Tournament, hosted by the University of Georgia. The 4-7 Leathernecks are fresh off of their trip to Montgomery, Ala. where they clashed in the Alabama State University Invitational.

The Purple and Gold were only able to play three games this previous weekend, as poor weather conditions made their Sunday doubleheader unplayable. The Leathernecks faced off against the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech Friday afternoon, a contest that Western got shutout by the Golden Eagles, 7-0.

On Saturday, the Leathernecks played a second game against Tennessee Tech, which saw the Golden Eagles shutout Western once again, this time the score read, 2-0. A second game Saturday afternoon put the Leathernecks toe-to-toe with the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky University. EKU took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second when senior right fielder Emily Corbitt hit a double off of Leathernecks senior Emily Ira.

The Purple and Gold responded in the top of the fifth when catcher Sidney Bottino singled to left center scoring Ira and Halle Hollatz to tie the game up 2-2. Western took the lead in the top of the ninth when Hollatz doubled to left scoring senior Hailey Duwa.

Eastern Kentucky responded quickly when sophomore Carly Robinson hit an RBI single to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. The Colonels would secure the win in the bottom of the 10th, when senior Hannah Clark hit a walk off single through the left side to top the Leathernecks.

This weekend looks to be a competitive one for the Leathernecks as they face some top-notch competition in the UGA Classic. Saturday, the Purple and Gold face off against the Bowling Green Falcons and the Elon University Phoenix.

The Falcons are 4-6 so far this season with wins over East Tennessee State, Gardner-Webb and Saint Francis (PA.). The Phoenix has been a bit more successful this season posting a 10-6-1 record so far. The Phoenix has had some tough losses to big name schools including Virginia and the No. 1 team in the country, Florida State.

Later on in the weekend, the Leathernecks face their toughest challenger yet this season when they face off against the hosting team, The University of Georgia Bulldogs. The 18-2 Bulldogs have been hot this year. So hot, in fact, that they have earned themselves a spot on the NCAA Division I softball rankings as the eighth best team in the country.

With one of their losses coming to No. 17 Indiana, and their other loss to highly touted Virginia Tech, Georgia is by far the toughest team the Leathernecks have to face this season.

Hoping to have a strong weekend on the mound is pitcher Emily Ira. Ira, who has been one of the Leathernecks strongest pitchers over her tenure here at Western, holds the number three spot on the Summit League leaderboards with her 2.51 ERA so far this season. Ira is 2-2 this season and with her stellar ERA, she has also posted a team-leading 25 strikeouts so far this season.

The Leathernecks’ first game is this Saturday at 9:30 a.m. against Bowling Green.