MACOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois softball team returns to action after a weekend off with a trip to the Blues City Classic in Memphis, Tenn. this weekend. Beginning Friday, the Leathernecks will face off in four different matchups in the weekend-long tournament. Western’s opponents include the Northwestern State Demons, the Huskies of Northern Illinois, the hosting Memphis Tigers and finally the North Alabama Lions.
The Purple and Gold sit at 3-7 on the season after competing in back to back tournaments in early February. The team traveled down to Waco, Texas Valentine’s Day weekend to compete in the Getterman Classic hosted by the Baylor Bears. After opening the tournament with a 6-5 walk off victory over the Prairie View A&M Panthers, the Leathernecks fell in three straight games to Grand Canyon University, Baylor and the Panthers.
Western was able to close the weekend against the Lopes of GCU the same way the weekend began: with a walk off. Sydney Hollings delivered the deciding blow in that match with a two out RBI single to finalize the Leathernecks 2-3 record on the weekend. Western showed much improvement in the second tournament of the season, keeping each game within one run. In fact, four of Western’s five games played that weekend ended in walk off fashion.
Much of the Purple and Gold’s success was due in part to impressive pitching performances. Leatherneck junior ace Abby Carlin pitched 22.1 innings for a 1.61 ERA. Carlin went 1-2 on the weekend allowing a total of eight total runs, however, only four of those runs were earned leading to her low weekend ERA. The rest of the Leatherneck rotation has slightly struggled this season, but that doesn’t deter from the fact that, as a whole, the rotation has potential. Western Illinois has the second-best ERA in The Summit League this season combining for a 3.60 ERA, helped by Abby Carlin’s league-leading 1.25 ERA. Carlin’s season record is 2-3 on the year in 39.1 total innings pitched.
On the offensive side of things, newcomer Kellie Marcheschi has been making a name for herself on this Leatherneck squad. Marcheschi leads the team in average (.364), on-base plus slugging (1.046), RBI (7) and slugging (.682). Marcheschi was named to the Getterman Classic All-Tournament Team with her five for 14 performance accompanied by six RBIs on the weekend.
Showing an offensive improvement this season for the Purple and Gold is junior outfielder Alyssa Ealy. Ealy recorded a team-high six hits with four runs in Waco including going two for three with a run and stolen base in the team’s second game against GCU. Ealy leads the team with 10 hits, including two triples, while also holding an impressive .345 batting average and a .940 OPS.
The Leathernecks face off against Northwestern State at 6:30 p.m. on Friday before heading to Saturday where they face off against Northern Illinois at 2 p.m. and Memphis at 6:30 p.m. Western closes the weekend with a Sunday morning match against North Alabama at 11:15 a.m. Twitter: @DavidKoier