Softball looks to extend winning streak



Emily Ira in motion to release a pitch

David Koier, Courier Staff

In their final home stand of the season, the Western Illinois softball team will not only face off against the 8-33 Mastodons of Purdue Fort Wayne, but they will honor their seniors who have helped this program over the past few years.

Payton Abbott, Madison Boone, Sidney Bottino, Aly Compton, Hailey Duwa, Emily Ira, Megan Lotarski and manager Magan Tintori will be honored in the Senior Day ceremony that will take place this weekend.

Many of these seniors have been having stellar seasons, but the one who stands out the most is pitcher Ira. Ira was honored as one of The Summit League preseason ‘Players to Watch’ in a preseason poll, and she has not disappointed.

Ira is heading into this weekend’s series coming off of her eighth Summit League ‘Pitcher of the Week’ for her performance last weekend in North Dakota. Ira pitched two complete games earning the win in both, while recording a save in game two, striking out 20 batters in the process.

Ira has cemented herself in the record books, as well as her career, with Western as she ranks third amongst Leatherneck pitchers with 637 counting career strikeouts. Of those 637, 113 of those have occurred this season, ranking her second in The Summit League rankings. Ira ranks fourth in Western Illinois history in both innings pitched and complete games with 590.2 and 60 respectively.

To accompany Ira’s dominance in the circle, Duwa brings the power from the plate. Duwa also earned herself a spot on The Summit League preseason ‘Players to Watch’ list after she recorded 30 RBIs, six home runs and a .375 batting average last season.

She may not be putting up the numbers she did last season, but that doesn’t mean that she still isn’t a force to be reckoned with. In 33 games played this season, Duwa has racked up a .281 batting average, a .458 slugging percentage, 21 RBIs and three home runs. She is also a solid player at first only making one error this season.

Another power hitting senior who is a reliable relief pitcher for the Leathernecks is Abbott. Abbott holds the second best batting average on the team with a .304. She accompanies that with a team leading four home runs (one of which was a grand slam against Iowa), a .510 slugging percentage and 23 RBIs. Pair that with a .930 fielding percentage and you have one dominant senior shortstop.

Purdue Fort Wayne enters the weekend with an 8-33 overall record and 3-12 Summit League mark. The Mastodons are 1-12 in road games and haven’t been finding much success recently as they are currently on a four game losing streak. Lauren Watson has been consistent at the dish with a team-best of .318 batting average. Morganne Denny leads the Mastodons in home runs and RBIs with four and 20 respectively.

Due to inclement weather forecasted, the series this weekend has been rescheduled just a bit. The series will begin today with a doubleheader starting at 2:30 p.m. Game three is scheduled for Saturday with first pitch set for 1 p.m. at the Mary Ellen McKee stadium in Macomb.

Twitter: thefluffy66