Streaks help Salukis return to form

By Gus Bode

There have been odd similarities between the SIU softball and men’s basketball teams this season.

While in the heart of a mid-season slump when the softball team played numerous ranked opponents both at home and on the road, the Salukis have found a way to turn things around in Missouri Valley Conference play, just like their men’s basketball counterparts months ago.

The Salukis are in the middle of a seven-game winning streak at home to help push them towards another bid for their fifth-straight NCAA Tournament. The men’s basketball team went on a similar streak against conference opponents after a similar out-of-conference start to the season before falling short of a seventh-consecutive NCAA Tournament bid.


Now the only difference between the two teams is that the softball squad still has a chance at NCAA Tournament glory.

The diamond Dawgs haven’t lost since March 27 thanks to strong pitching and an offensive lift that has resulted in a perfect home stand at Charlotte West Stadium.

“It’s always great to play at home,” said senior outfielder Krystal Stein. “We have great fans and we have a great atmosphere here.”

But their 22-15 record will be put to the test as they hit the road for a single game against Evansville on Wednesday and a three-game series in Des Moines, Iowa, against the Drake Bulldogs.

Pitching has carried the team lately, as the duo of freshmen hurlers Nikki Waters and Danielle Glosson have combined for a 2.80 ERA. Waters was named MVC Pitcher of the Week on Monday behind three complete shutouts and 24 scoreless innings.

Coach Kerri Blaylock said the duo, along with junior pitcher Katie McNamara, have finally adapted to their individual roles on the mound.

“We were young in the beginning (of the season) and we’re going to try to hang in there,” Blaylock said.


The Salukis also have multiple sluggers contributing hits game after game at home, which has led to an 8-3 mark in Carbondale.

Senior first baseman Lauren Haas had an eight-game hit streak end in the second game of a double header on April 2 but has reached base on a hit, run or error for the last 14 games.

Junior third baseman Katie Wagner extended her hit streak to six games before going 0-for-3 in the last game of the series against Indiana State Sunday. The streak elevated her batting average to .349, which is second best on the team behind Haas.

Junior outfielder Katie Schmidt and freshman outfielder Chelsea Held have also made significant contributions and Haas said they have been part of a surge in offense throughout the whole team.

“We are just in the zone right now,” Haas said.

As the Salukis pass the midpoint of the season, Blaylock said she looks for the team to carry its strong play at home onto the road for a major portion of the final conference games.

“I’ve challenged them and I think they’re ready to keep taking it next game at a time. One game at a time,” Blaylock said.

Megan Kramper can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 256 or [email protected]