Salukis’ newest recruits could play right away

By Gus Bode

Two celebrated junior transfers could help the SIU’ softball team rebound from the loss of five seniors and its ace pitcher.

Coach Kerry Blaylock said signees Natalee Weissinger, a University of Tennessee transfer, and Alex Peters, a pitcher from Crowder Community College, could compete for roster spots immediately.

‘They’ll both come in and be great additions to the team,’ Blaylock said. ‘We hope they can break into the lineup right away.’

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A crucial point for the players will be in the fall, when the team plays eight games in preparation for the spring season.

Assistant coach Christy Connoyer said it is too tough to tell at this point whether or not both players will step in right away, but they will find out during the exhibitions.’

‘During those games it will be rare to see the same lineups, but they’ll mix their way into it,’ she said.’ ‘It’s going to be very experimental.’

Weissinger, a native of Madison, Tenn., was a 2006 EA SPORTS All-American and The Tennessean’s Player of the Year.

Blaylock said Weissinger’s speed and power make her a good addition.’

‘Natalee is a very fast kid and she can hit with gap power and she’s experienced, having been at Tennessee and playing in the SEC and playing in the College World Series,’ Blaylock said.

The former Volunteer is coming in as a junior after being courted by SIU when she was in high school.

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A few months after former SIU ace Nikki Waters left the team to play closer to home at Tennessee-Martin, Blaylock found her potential replacement in Peters.

If Peters can duplicate her success in the 2009 season, Blaylock said she should be a force for the Salukis.

The Adair, Okla., native had an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio last season, striking out 254 would-be hitters with only 27 walks in 193.1 innings of work.

Blaylock said she is excited about what Peters could bring to the team.

‘Alex can throw in the low 60s,’ she said. ‘She’s a strikeout pitcher and when she’s in trouble she has the ability to get herself out of it.’

Awards were plentiful for the both players in their years prior to SIU.

Peters was a first team All-Region player going 20-9 in 36 appearances with a 1.09 earned run average in 2009.

The year before, she struck out 345 batters in 227 innings.

In her high school days, Weissinger led her team to a 169-20-1 record and was also on three state, region and district championship teams.

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