Redbird Softball Hosts Rival SIU for Final Home Stand
Kara Nelson
Kara Nelson

April 29, 2011

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SOUTHERN ILLINOIS AT ILLINOIS STATE | NORMAL, ILL.
Dates Saturday, April 30 - Sunday, May 1
Location
Normal, Ill. (Marian Kneer Stadium)
Saturday
vs. Southern Illinois (DH) (12:00 p.m.)
Sunday
vs. Southern Illinois (12:00 p.m.)
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NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State softball team will host in-state rival Southern Illinois for its final home stand of the 2011 season this weekend at Marian Kneer Stadium. The Redbirds (31-14, 17-3 MVC) and Salukis (32-13, 14-3 MVC), who are currently first and second in the Missouri Valley Conference standings, respectively, will play a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m. Saturday, before completing the series with 12 p.m. tilt Sunday afternoon.

The ISU softball program will honor its four seniors: Chrissy Burton, Kara Nelson, Abby Olson and Jessica Roche, following Sunday's contest and are led offensively by Nelson, who is hitting .408, the second-best average in the MVC. The Moline, Ill., native extended her hitting streak to 22 games Tuesday with a solo home run to lead off the game in Illinois State's 10-7 win at Indiana State. The Redbirds got five homers from five different players in the victory over the Sycamores, as Olson, juniors Caiti Kopp and Liz Andrews and sophomore Shelby Music also went deep. Illinois State combined to hit 13 long balls in the three-game set with Indiana State and have cleared the fences 62 times this season, the second-highest home run total in school history, trailing only the 2007 squad that hit 83 homers.

Junior Jordan Birch picked her 15th win of the season in Tuesday's victory, after relieving fellow junior Megan Warner in the third and tossing the final 4.2 innings. Birch fanned eight opposing hitters and allowed just one earned run. Warner did not factor into the decision, after giving up four runs on four hits in her 2.1 innings.

Southern Illinois, who won the 2010 MVC regular-season championship by a half game over the Redbirds, enters the weekend having won 13 of its last 14 games. The Salukis had a 10-game winning streak snapped April 20 at Evansville and rebounded by sweeping a two-game series against Missouri State and topping the Purple Aces, 9-1, in five innings Tuesday afternoon in Carbondale, Ill.

SIU boasts a .294 team batting average, the second-best mark in the Valley behind only ISU, and is led by Mallory Duran. Duran is hitting a league-best .423, with a .503 on-base percentage, and is a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen base opportunities. Taylor Orsburn, Jayna Spivey and Cristina Trapani have provided a powerful punch in the middle of the SIU lineup, combining for 26 home runs and 109 RBI. Spivey leads the team with 10 homers, while Orsburn and Trapani have each recorded eight long balls this season. In the circle, the Salukis are led by 2010 MVC Pitcher of the Year Danielle Glosson. Glosson owns a 21-8 record with a 2.13 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 200.1 innings.

For Saturday's doubleheader, ISU Athletics will host "Youth Softball Day". Any youth softball player wearing their team uniform will receive free admission and all kids in attendance will be invited to run the "run the bases" following the second game of the twin bill.

In addition to honoring the senior class Sunday, ISU Athletics will say "thank you" to its fans by hosting "Fan Appreciation Day". Everyone in attendance will receive a raffle ticket as they enter the stadium and prizes from ISU Athletics sponsors will be raffled off throughout the game. Sunday will also be the final "Sunday Sundae" at Marian Kneer Stadium and patrons will be able to purchase an ice cream sundae in a mini keepsake Illinois State batting helmet.

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