Saluki Softball kicks off 2007 season

By Gus Bode

The SIU softball team has high expectations after making it to the NCAA Regionals in the 2006 season.

Picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference coaches’ poll, the Salukis kick off their 2007 season with a weekend tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. starting Friday afternoon.

Illinois State was picked to win the MVC and both teams are receiving votes in the top 25.

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Saluki coach Kerri Blaylock said her team isn’t concerned with all the preseason hoopla.

“Expectations come from within and we don’t pay attention to the polls,” Blaylock said. “Right now, we’re concentrated on UNC-Greensboro.”

SIU has a double header Friday against UNC-Greensboro and Jacksonville starting at noon. On Saturday, the Salukis take on both teams again before finishing up with Minnesota on Sunday.

“Expectations come from within and we don’t pay attention to the polls.” – Coach Kerri Blaylock

In search of their fifth straight NCAA tournament appearance, the Salukis will rely on an experienced pitcher and a five-tool outfielder toward the top of the order.

Senior pitcher Cassidy Scoggins carried the load for the SIU pitching staff last season, which she was named MVC Pitcher of the Year and posted 11 shutouts along with 240 strikeouts and a 1.09 earned run average.

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Scoggins said the Salukis’ 9-0-2 record in the fall season has SIU setting its goals higher.

“As of right now the goal is the NCAA Super Regional,” Scoggins said. “We want to play controlled but there’s internal excitement.”

The Salukis return one of their table setters from 2006 in junior center fielder Krystal Stein. Stein and junior right fielder Tiffanie Dismore will be hitting in the first two spots of the order.

A first team All-MVC last season, Stein hit .314 – including posting a .411 average conference play.

Stein said the team always has room for improvement but they like where they are.

“As upperclassmen, we need to be leaders but our seniors are smart and capable leaders too,” Stein said. “Our team is unified heading in to the season.”

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