Softball gets set to take on North Dakota Fighting Hawks

Emily Ira in her delivery.


Emily Ira in her delivery.

Taylor Jordan, Courier Staff

GRAND FORKS, N.D.- The Western Illinois softball team continues Summit League play in North Dakota on Friday and Saturday. The three-game series will consist of one game on Friday along with a doubleheader the following day. All games will be played inside the Alerus Center due to field conditions.

The Leathernecks were last seen in Chicago last Saturday, where they faced off against UIC in a doubleheader. Western recorded a new season-high of 16 hits versus the Flames. Game one was taken by the Leathernecks 9-4, while UIC seized game two with a 6-3 victory.

Emily Ira is leading Western in strikeouts every year since she’s been playing for the Necks. The senior is eighth in the NCAA in strikeout-to-walk ratio, getting 7.15 batters per each one she walks as of last Thursday. Ira has struck out 93 batters as she ranks second in The Summit League this season.

Ira struck out a season-high of 13 batters in an 8-0 shutout win over Bowling Green on March 9. Her career-high is 19 strikeouts. Ira is the third Leatherneck to ever register 600 strikeouts as she recorded 617 career strikeouts and counting. Holly Van Vlymen received 880 while Kameren Ferguson was at 763.

Hailey Duwa has currently 18 career home runs and is tied for sixth in program history. One more could tie her for fourth all-time and 21 is the spot for second place.

Both Ira and Duwa were honored as Summit League ‘Players to Watch’ at the start of their 2019 season and continue to prove why.

UND is entering the weekend at 19-27 overall and carries a 4-5 Summit League record in its inaugural season in the league. The Fighting Hawks lost to South Dakota last weekend. Game one was a high scoring 9-6 loss and game two was a 4-0 shut out. Kayleen Schneider owns one of the best batting averages in The Summit League (.360), while Marina Marxolino leads her team with 25 RBIS. Joselyn Kirk and Dani Romero each have hit four homers this year for UND. Freshman Jannay Jones has killed it in the circle with 12 complete games, 76 strikeouts and a 3.76 ERA.

The two teams have only met twice before and both received a win. The Purple and Gold shutout North Dakota 4-0 on opening day of the 2012 season at the Iowa State Invitational (Feb. 12, 2012) when Beth Golitko was in her first season as a graduate assistant coach at Western. North Dakota grabbed a victory from the Leathernecks 5-3 after a close game in the Total Control Sports Invitational on Feb. 8, 2015. Friday will mark the first game between the two that is not played at a neutral site and the Necks will make their first trip to Grand Forks, N.D.

The three-game series will start at 7 p.m. on Friday along with the doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Alerus Center in North Dakota