Softball slides south toward Saluki Invitational

David Koier, Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. – The Western Illinois Softball team travels to yet another weekend tournament this upcoming weekend, but this one is different: they get to stay in Illinois for this one. The team makes the quick trip down to the campus of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale for the Saluki Invitational.

The Leathernecks are fresh off their visit to Memphis last weekend where they participated in the Blues City Classic. The team went 1-3 in the tournament, a weekend highlighted by their lone victory over the Northern Illinois Huskies.

NIU’s Katie Keller kicked off the scoring with a twoout solo homer to right-center in the top of the first inning, but Western sophomore Savannah Rodriguez responded quickly with a two run home run of her own to give Western a 2-1 lead after one.

The Huskies quickly tied it up at the top of the second, but Ealy helped secure the lead once again with a single up the middle in the bottom half to bring Tori Boysen home for a 3-2 Leatherneck edge. Rodriguez added to the lead in the bottom of the third with a double to the gap in right-center. Rodriguez scored on an NIU throwing error on the next batter after Boyson singled down the left field to bring the Leatherneck lead to 5-2. Daytona Dooley closed the inning with an RBI single to center to plate Western’s third run of the third inning. Anderson closed the door on the Huskies to earn the 10-9 victory over the Huskies in 2.2 innings of work and two strikeouts. Abby Carlin got a no-decision in a starting role, surrendering four earned runs with one strikeout of her own.

In the midst of the team’s 4-10 record, Alyssa Ealy and Piper Foote have stood out with their respective success at the plate. Ealy owns the team high batting average with a .349, which happens to be 10th in The Summit League, while also leading the team in multi-hit contests with four under her belt. The freshman, Foote, trails close behind with a .306 average of her own. Both players head into the Saluki Invitational on three-game hitting streaks. Despite a disappointing win column, the Leathernecks still fight until the end in all their contests. Out of the team’s 10 losses, they have only been prevented from scoring one time (February 9th against Butler) and have lost by just one run on four occasions.

Carlin has helped the team keep it close from her role in the circle as she has stepped up in her role as the team’s ace. Carlin is 2-4 on the season through 48.1 innings this season, accumulating 24 strikeouts on her way to a Summit League best 1.88 ERA.

In Carbondale this weekend, the Purple and Gold will face off against DePaul and a familiar foe Northern Illinois on Friday before a second doubleheader on Saturday against the host SIU Salukis and Jaguars of IUPUI(who Western also faced in the first tournament of the season in a 7-9 losing effort). The Invitational concludes Sunday with a final game against DePaul. The first pitch for Friday’s matchup against DePaul is scheduled for 10 a.m.Twitter: @DavidKoier