Fighting Leatherneck Softball Opens 2013 Season in Nashville
Courtesy: Western Illinois Athletics  
Release: Monday 02/08/2013
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MACOMB, Ill. - Western Illinois softball is eager to open its 2013 regular season this Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 9-10) at the 2013 Belmont Spring Tournament. The Fighting Leathernecks will face Central Arkansas and Belmont on Saturday and conclude competition on Sunday against Jackson State and Valparaiso.

The Schedule

Saturday (Feb. 9)

Who: Western Illinois (V) vs. Central Arkansas (H)
Time: 11:15 a.m.

Who: Western Illinois (V) vs. Belmont (H)
Time: 6 p.m.

Sunday (Feb. 10)

Time: 11:15 a.m.

Who: Western Illinois (H) vs. Valparaiso (V)
Time: 1:15 p.m.

Tournament Central

Website: HERE
Livestats: HERE

The Returners:

Western Illinois returns 13 letterwinners from the 2012 roster including seven starters. There are three sophomores, seven juniors and three seniors.
Alex Pflieger (#18, Senior, Catcher): In five starts behind the dish, Pflieger caught two runners stealing. She appeared in 13 games, primarily as a pinch hitter, and hit .071 (1-for-14) on the season. Her hit occurred on Feb. 11, 2012 against North Dakota.
Kelsey Michelini (#21, Senior, Pitcher): Michelini made 39 appearances in the circle in 2012 and earned 27 starts. She compiled an overall record of 12-12 posting a 3.50 earned run average and tossing a team-most eight complete games. Her 88 strikeout season marked her career-high, and her 10 strikeouts against IUPUI on Mar. 10, 2011 was a career game-high performance. At the plate, Michelini hit at a .214 clip with a double and a homerun.

Julia Katsaros (#23, Senior, Outfield): Katsaros appeared in two games in 2012 as a pinch runner against Northern Iowa on Feb. 14, 2012 and against Georgia on Feb. 18, 2012. Her season was cut short due to illness.
Briana Williams (#20, Junior, Outfield): Williams appeared in and started 51 games in the outfield posting a fielding percentage of .925 with one assist. She hit .299 (38-for-127) and posted an on-base percentage of .382 with 12 walks and five hit by pitches. Her 19 stolen bases was the second-most on the team and she recorded nine multiple hit games.

Ryleigh Sears (#4, Junior, Outfield): After appearing in 40 games as a pinch runner and once as a pinch hitter, Sears scored a career-high 10 runs on the season. She scored her first run of the year against Drake on Feb. 11, 2012.

Monica Rondon (#15, Junior, Utility): Rondon appeared in 23 games and tallied 10 starts as a designated hitter or right fielder last season. In her 17 at bats, she recorded two walks.
Megg Kelly (#11, Junior, Infield): Kelly started every game for the Leathernecks at third base and posted a .929 fielding percentage. She launched five homeruns, hit 10 doubles and notched 19 runs batted in, hitting at a clip of .276. She recorded nine multiple hit games and earned an on-base percentage of .400 with a team-high 25 walks and a .448 slugging percentage.
Bria Jones (#22, Junior, Utility): Jones scored two runs on the season before having her year cut short due to injury. She appeared in four games as a pinch runner and scored her first career run against Northern Iowa on Feb. 12, 2012.
Emma Jarrell (#14, Junior, Infield): Jarrell appeared and started all 51 games at second base or shortstop compiling a fielding percentage of .935. She hit .233 (30-for-129) with a double, a homerun and 16 runs batted in.

Hailey Bickford (#5, Junior, Pitcher/Utility): Bickford appeared in 37 games as a pitcher and designated hitter and made 29 starts. She led the team in earned run average (3.18), saves (3) and strikeouts (94) and posted an overall record of 9-13 in the circle. In 20 starts, the right-handed pitcher tossed seven complete games and three shutout victories. At the plate, Bickford hit .224 (15-for-67) with three triples, two doubles and eight runs batted in.

Teagan Walsh (#6, Sophomore, Pitcher/Utility): Walsh started 34 games and appeared in 34 as a designated hitter, pitcher, outfielder and second baseman. She hit .196 (19-for-97) with four doubles, one homerun and 10 runs batted in, while posting an on-base percentage of .255 with eight walks and a slugging percentage of .268. As a pitcher, Walsh compiled a 2-3 record and an earned run average of 4.86 in her 31.2 innings of work.

Lia Romeo (#8, Sophomore, Catcher/Infield): Romeo made 51 appearances including 49 starts behind the dish. She hit .241 (34-for-141) with seven doubles, two triples and 19 runs batted in and posted a slugging percentage of .319 and an on-base percentage of .319 with eight walks and a team-most 20 hit by pitches. She caught 13 runners attempting to steal in 2012.

Sammy Marshall (#10, Sophomore, Infield): In her first collegiate season, Marshall was crowned the NCAA Stolen Base champion after swiping 45-of-45 bases in her 38 games played. She hit a team-best .420 (55-for-131) with two doubles and an in the park home run. She earned Western Illinois and Summit League records for steals in a season and currently ranks seventh in the Western Illinois record book for career steals. Her .449 on-base percentage and 17 multiple-hit games paced the team, despite her season ending early with an injury.

The Newcomers:

Danielle Walker (#24, Freshman, Outfield): The Guilford graduate was a four-year softball letterwinner and a two-year basketball letterwinner. She garnered All-Conference honors and was named the team's most valuable player as a sophomore, junior and senior and was given All-Conference Honorable Mention as a freshman. The Rockford, Ill. native served as the team captain and was elected Female Athlete of the Year as a senior.

Julie Mayernich (#17, Freshman, Utility): The Peoria, Ill. native started and earned a softball varsity letter all four years at Peoria Notre Dame. Mayernich was a three-time Offensive Player of the Year, First Team All-Conference honoree and was the first player from Peoria Notre Dame to play in the Annual Super 60 Senior All-State Softball Classic. She hit .422 with 30 runs scored, 87 hits, 12 doubles, three triples and 31 runs batted hit.

Karissa Kouchis (#25, Freshman, Utility): The Carl Sandburg graduate helped her team capture a 4A Illinois State Championship in 2010 and four straight conference championships. She hit .339 as a senior and led the team with 18 stolen bases. As a member of the Orland Park Sparks travel team, she hit .524 with a .667 slugging percentage and an on-base percentage of .556. Kouchis earned seven varsity letters in softball and cheerleading.

Kacyee Hart (#7, Freshman, Pitcher/Infield): The Lincoln-Way East graduate helped the team to Regional championships in 2010 and 2011 and a conference championship in 2012. Hart was named to the Chicago Sun Times Top 100 Softball Players list and was a 2012 Century 21 All-Area Honorable Mention selection. She was also named Southern Illinois Indoor Softball Tournament Most Valuable Player and Elgin Exposure Most Valuable Player.

Tierney Bottino (#27, Freshman, Utility): The Lockport, Ill. native helped Lockport Township to back-to-back Regional titles in 2010 and 2011 leading the team in hits with 42 in 117 at bats. She earned All-Area Honorable Mention and All-Conference Honorable Mention honors. Bottino lettered in softball and volleyball and served as team captain.


The Leathernecks start the season with a 20-game road swing starting in Nashville, Tenn. with the 2013 Belmont Spring Tournament. It is a four-game series beginning on February 9 with matchups against Central Arkansas and tournament host Belmont. Day two features contests against Jackson State and Valparaiso.

The swing continues when Western heads to the Bama Bash in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The tournament features five-games, two of which will be played against 2012 National Champions Alabama. Games begin on February 22 and play wraps up on February 24.

March 2-3, the Leathernecks will be in Carbondale, Ill. for a four-game tournament before heading to the 2013 Adidas Invitational in Rock Hill, S.C. March 8 through March 10. The five-game tournament features a matchup with Georgia, a team the squad fell 2-0 to in the 2012 season.

Western wraps up its road swing with a doubleheader at Morehead State in Kentucky on March 12.

The Leathernecks return to Macomb to host South Dakota its first Summit League series of the season March 15-16, then hit the road for a doubleheader at Valparaiso on March 20.

A stretch of three conference series, consisting of three games apiece, then occur beginning with Oakland at home March 22-23. Western then travels to Fort Wayne for a series March 29-30 and returns to Mary Ellen McKee to take on 2012 Summit League Tournament Champion North Dakota State April 5-6.

On April 10, the Leathernecks take on Green Bay in a home doubleheader before traveling to Kansas City for another three-game league series April 13-14.

Western takes on IUPUI midweek at home April 16-17, then hit the road to Brookings, S.D. for its series against South Dakota State April 19-20. The squad wraps up conference action at Omaha April 27-28.

The Leathernecks end regular season play with a doubleheader against Missouri on May 1 beginning at 3 p.m.

The Summit League Tournament is scheduled for May 9-11 in Fargo, N.D. and will be hosted by North Dakota State. The top four teams will earn bids to the tournament and play for a berth to Regionals.



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