SIU softball to host MVC’s

By Gus Bode

Carbondale welcomes three MVC tournaments in 2003-2004

After just one season in its new home, the SIU softball team will welcome its first conference tournament since1990 to Carbondale next spring. That year, SIU was still in the Gateway Conference making this the first ever Missouri Valley Conference tournament played at SIU since the Salukis joined the league in 1993.

As the host institution, SIU will receive one of the six spots in the three-day event to be played at Charlotte West Stadium-Rochman Field. The championship tournament, which was awarded on a bid basis, will take place from May 13-15, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

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Athletic bids to host conference tournaments are presented before the MVC administrators who discuss and vote on each university’s bid. Bids are submitted at least a month prior to the conference’s fall meeting. The completion of the new softball stadium went a long way to SIU being named the site for the 2004 championships.

“We wouldn’t be hosting it if it wasn’t for the new stadium,” SIU Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk said. “We hope our home field advantage and our fan support will help us win.”

The SIU softball team finished a record-setting season in May. The Salukis were among the final 16 teams in the NCAA tournament and finished the season ranked No. 22 in the nation, the first such postseason ranking in the program’s history.

The ranking marks a record 13 weeks in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll and is the first time since they were listed in the lower 30s during the latter half of the 1990s.

“We deserve the tournament,” SIU softball senior Haley Viefhaus said. “After a season that we’ve had, there’s no way that we shouldn’t do even better in our conference.”

SIU women’s swimming and diving will also welcome the 2004 MVC tournament, after playing host to the tournament last season. The women’s team has won five of the last six MVC titles, with Southwest Missouri State taking home the championship this season.

Not to be left out is the SIU women’s golf team, which will welcome the MVC’s best to Carbondale’s Hickory Ridge Golf Course in April. The tournament may be played at Stone Creek Golf Course in Makanda if Hickory Ridge cannot complete its clubhouse in time.

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SIU’s team led this year’s MVC tournament after day one, but fell to a fourth-place finish in the final round. Next year’s tournament will take place April 18-20.

Reporter Pete Spitler can be reached at [email protected]

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