Salukis play for a greater cause in weekend series

By Brandon Willingham

Though thunderstorms cancelled the non-conference match up against Saint Louis University Wednesday, the SIU softball team looks to continue its winning streak today. For a different look, the Salukis will wear pink for the annual Strike Out Cancer game Saturday, where fans can make contributions.

SIU (20-9, 7-2 Missouri Valley Conference) takes on Indiana State University (12-20, 0-9 MVC) today and Saturday at Charlotte West Stadium.  The game will benefit the American Cancer Society Coaches vs. Cancer fund.

The Salukis led the MVC in offense with a batting average of .310, along with a .464 slugging percentage and .420 on-base percentage.

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SIU softball hasn’t lost a series to the Sycamores and has held a 34-3 record against them the past 11 years. The Salukis haven’t lost to Indiana State since 2009.

Coach Kerri Blaylock said winning is great, but it’s even more important to show support for those who suffer from cancer.

Blaylock said she’s lost two loved ones to the disease, and makes an effort to raise awareness in their honor.

“I lost my dad and my brother to a disease that caused kidney cancer,” Blaylock said. “From that moment forward, I try to donate and do anything I can to help cancer research because it has really affected me.”

Blaylock isn’t the only one on the softball coaching staff who’s lost a family member to the disease. Blaylock said two assistant coaches have also lost someone to cancer.

Sophomore infielder Taylor Orsburn said the game will be more than just another contest — it’s a chance for the team to show the American Cancer Society its dedication toward raising awareness.

Freshman pitcher Katie Bertelsen said though it would be great for the team to bring home a win, the game will be played for those who have battled, survived and died from cancer.

“We have to come out ready to go when we step out on the field,” Bertelsen said. “We have to remember what we’re playing for because it’s not about us, but we give support to the cause.”

The Salukis play at 3 p.m. today at the Charlotte West Stadium.

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