After the softball team clinched a three-game series against Illinois State on Saturday and Sunday, it now looks to continue its two-game win streak today in St. Louis against the Saint Louis University Billikens.
Saint Louis University (16-18) has lost four consecutive series to SIU since the 2008 season. The Salukis (20-9) held the same non-conference matchup March 30, 2011, and claimed two victories with final scores of 3-2 and 5-1 against the Billikens.
As the Salukis have a 5-1 record on the road in the 2012 season and the Billikens have a 2-4 home record, the Salukis may have the advantage.
Coach Kerri Blaylock said the team is ready and players don’t feel pressured as they compete in unfamiliar territory. With the majority of the Salukis’ softball games scheduled away, Blaylock said the team is accustomed to being on the road.
“It’s usually always a battle with teams, and you have to take it one game at a time,” she said. “The kids are going to be ready to go, and we just have to go out and play the game.”
She said her players’ work ethic on offense and defense in practice has prevailed during games.
Blaylock and assistant coach Jen Sewell have used practice to prepare the team for offensive situations such as stealing bases or bunting.
The Salukis practice double play, changes in pitching styles and anything to prepare the team to avoid a turnover on the defensive side.
Senior centerfielder and co-captain Mallory Duran-Sellers said the best ways to succeed against teams are to stay focused and to play the entire game full out, win or lose.
“We have to come into the game focused,” Duran-Sellers said. “Regardless of how the game starts out, we have to be ready to play an entire seven innings. We can’t let the first inning determine whether we’ll be down or up. We have to remain consistent in our game.”
Senior shortstop and captain Haley Gorman said it’s necessary for the team to have adequate defensive play during the entire game.
She said if the team plays good defense, then the momentum from its offense should come as well.
“We have good pitching and we communicate well on the field in practice and on game days,” Gorman said. “The way we practice is the way we play, and we must come out strong, which I know we will. We have to be confident in ourselves, and hopefully, come out on top.”
The game starts 3 p.m. today at at the Billiken Sports Center in St. Louis.