Redbirds Host Round Robin Saturday, Go on Road Sunday
Sept. 14, 2007
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State softball team will continue to search for the perfect on-field combination this weekend as it resumes its fall season with five games over two days. ISU will host the inaugural Redbird Round Robin at Redbird Softball Complex Saturday, taking on Western Illinois at 10:30 a.m., followed by a 3:30 p.m. matchup with Heartland Community College. Sunday, the `Birds travel to Orland Park, Ill., to face Kirkwood Community College (10 a.m.), Indiana (noon) and DePaul (4 p.m.) at the Chicagoland Fall Classic.
The Redbirds are coming off last weekend's 3-1 finish at the ISU Fall Classic. Illinois State's offense came alive Saturday, producing 18 runs over two games in wins over Illinois Central College (6-0) and Lake Land (12-4). Going up against defending NCAA Division II National Champion Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in Sunday's first game, ISU was shutdown by a dominating pitching performance from the Cougars' Kaitlin Colosimo, as the `Birds managed just three hits in a 3-1 loss. Sunday's tournament finale saw junior pitcher Amber Smith produce one of the best pitching performances of her Redbird softball career, as the right-hander from Fairfield, Calif., threw a one-hit shutout to defeat Missouri Valley Conference foe Bradley, 4-0.
ISU was led throughout the weekend by the stellar pitching of Smith, who went 2-0 in four appearances, and recorded a perfect 0.00 earned run average (ERA) in 17 innings of work. Opponents are batting a scant .094 this fall against the Redbirds' No. 1 pitcher. Leading ISU offensively was the duo of sophomore Michelle Henderson and junior Jessie Buker. Henderson was nearly unstoppable at the plate during the weekend, going 6-for-8 (.750), with four runs scored and two RBI. Buker batted at a .333 clip (4-for-12) over four games, belting one of four ISU home runs on the weekend.
Western Illinois won the 2007 Mid-Continent Conference regular-season championship with an 11-2 conference record that complimented a 23-23 overall mark. The Redbirds and Westerwinds met April 10 in Macomb, Ill., with ISU coming out on top, 6-1.
Heartland Community College is competing in its first season of intercollegiate softball and is a member of the Mid-West Athletic Conference of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
Sunday's Chicagoland Fall Classic will present one of the biggest challenges to ISU in its fall schedule. The Redbirds' 4 p.m. matchup against DePaul will bring a Blue Demon team that finished the 2007 season ranked No. 6 in the final USA Today/NFCA Division I Top-25 Poll after the squad made its fourth appearance since 1999 in the Women's College World Series (WCWS). DePaul went 6-1 at the WCWS, eventually dropping out after losing an elimination game to 2006 and 2007 national champion Arizona. ISU was a 4-3 winner over then-No. 18 DePaul March 21 at Redbird Softball Complex, one of nine wins the `Birds had over ranked opponents last season.
Kirkwood Community College was 37-14 last season and competes in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference of the NJCAA. Indiana finished 21-34 overall and 1-19 in the Big Ten during the spring 2007 season. The Redbirds and Hoosiers last met March 28, 1999, when ISU run-ruled Indiana, 9-1, in a five-inning game in Bloomington, Ind.