MAC Softball Weekend Preview

Updated 3/1/2013


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Akron went 1-2 at the Phyllis Rafter Memorial Tournament hosted by Kennesaw State last weekend, picking up a solid 2-0 victory over Georgia State on its home field…Alissa Birkhimer tossed a complete game shutout for her third win of the season…Freshman Shawna Hochstetler led the team on the weekend, hitting .429 with a stolen base and a run scored…Rachael Ratcliffe belted her third and fourth home runs of the season and now leads the team with 14 RBI…Zips’ ace Erin Seiler leads the Mid-American Conference in innings pitched at 48.1 and is second in the league standings issuing 45 strikeouts...UA has a week off before traveling to Kissimmee, Fla. for the Rebel Spring Games March 8-11…Opponents on deck for Akron in Florida include Penn, Holy Cross, South Dakota, Sacred Heart, Butler, North Dakota, Lehigh and Fairleigh Dickinson.
Ball State
Picked as the preseason favorite to win both the 2013 Mid-American Conference West Division title and the 2013 MAC Tournament as voted on by the league’s 12 head coaches, the Cardinals enter the FAU Classic with a 6-3 overall record ... Jennifer Gilbert leads the Cardinals at the plate with a MAC-best .630 (17-for-27) batting average, five home runs, 14 RBI and 15 runs scored ... In the circle, Nicole Steinbach has a team-best 2.00 ERA, a 2-2 record and one save ... She has thrown a pair of complete game shutouts and is limiting opposing batters to a .219 average while posting 26 strikeouts ... As a team, the Cardinals own a league-best .337 batting average and are second in the MAC with a 2.73 team ERA.
Bowling Green
The Bowling Green State University softball team will participate in its third tournament of the 2013 season this weekend, as they head to Johnson City, Tenn. for the Buccaneer Challenge. The Falcons (3-2) will take on Morehead State and East Tennessee State this weekend, taking on both teams on two separate days  in a four-game span. The Falcons own a career record of 3-0-1 against Morehead State, most recently defeating the Eagles by a score of 6-3 at the Hilltopper Classic last season (2/26/12). Bowling Green’s other opponent, East Tennessee State, is the host for the Buccaneer Challenge. This season marks the first career meeting between the Falcons and the Buccaneers.  This past weekend in Kennesaw, Ga. marked the first home runs of the season for Bowling Green, as junior Kaite Yoho and seniors Andrea Arney and Paige Berger hit their first homers of the season. Yoho and Arney hit home runs in the Falcons’ 12-7 loss to Jacksonville State, while Berger hit a game-winning homer in a 4-3 victory over Campbell. Yoho and Arney both hit double-digit home runs last season, while Berger was held to seven. Berger now has 31 career home runs as a Falcon, ranking second on the all-time list behind Hayley Wiemer (2006-09).
The University at Buffalo softball team heads back to the road this weekend for five games at the Marshall Invitational.  The Bulls will play two games against Robert Morris, two against Marshall, and for the second straight week they will face Eastern Illinois.  Sophomore Alexis Curtiss leads the team with seven hits and five runs batted in, while fellow classmate Karly Nevez is batting a team-best .286.  Freshman Ryleigh Fitzgerald hit Buffalo’s first three-base hit of the season last weekend.  In the circle, freshmen Nicole Aviles and Dani Cowan have combined for 25 of 35 strikeouts.
Central Michigan
After going 2-3 at the Lobo Classic, Central Michigan travels to Clearwater, Fla. for the USF Tournament. The Chippewas will play 10 games in 13 days, including no. 19 Kentucky (11-3) on Saturday, March 2. Freshman Katelyn Rentschler leads the team with a .400 batting average, ranking seventh in the Mid-American Conference. Carol Ann Sexauer ranks 10th in the conference, batting .389, and leads the team with two homeruns. Senior Kara Dornbos leads a pitching staff that ranks third in the MAC with a 2.83 ERA. Central Michigan opens up the USF Tournament on Friday, March 1, against Providence.
Eastern Michigan
After almost three weeks, the Eagles will travel south to the Sunshine State for 11 games in nine days. The Green and White will be competing in the Florida Atlantic University Classic in Boca Raton, Fla. EMU will play all but two games in Boca Raton, where it will take on Jacksonville, FAU, Ball State, Harvard, Michigan State, Stony Brook, Kansas and Florida A&M.  EMU will square off with FAU in a game, March 4, at 6 p.m. which will not be a part of the FAU Classic.  On Wednesday, March 6, Eastern will take on Florida International as part of a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m in Miami.
Kent State
Kent State travels to Tampa, Fla. For five games at the USF Under Armour Invitational. The Golden Flashes dropped all four games at last weekend’s Cardinal Classic. Two of those losses came in 8 innings and the other two were against No. 18 Louisville.
The RedHawks suffered a tough 1-4 week at the Frost Classic last week. Despite that there were positive signs, particularly from the offense. Miami had eight doubles, one triple and three home runs as it scored 31 runs in the five games. The ‘Hawks already have seven home runs on the year in 10 games after hitting only 22 in 61 games last season. This year’s team is averaging 5.7 runs per game, while last year’s NCAA Tournament team averaged 4.2. Miami is off this week and will resume play at the Louisville Red and Black Tournament, March 8-10.
Northern Illinois
The Huskies return to the diamond Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013 when NIU travels to Carbondale, Ill. to compete in the Coach B Classic hosted by Southern Illinois. Northern Illinois opens the tournament against in-state rival Western Illinois with first pitch set for 10 a.m. CT.
Ohio went 4-1 at the 2013 UTC Frost Classic … The Bobcats are now 11-3 on the season and are off to their best start since 1994 … Ohio’s final two wins (Boston College and Tennessee Tech) came in the seventh inning, with the win over BC coming via a walk-off home run by Caitlin Colvin … Ohio is averaging 1.64 home runs per game in 2013 … The Bobcats hit a program-record 47 home runs in 57 games last season and have already hit 23 through just 14 games in 2013.
Toledo enters the Under Armour Invitational in Clearwater, Fla. following a 1-4 showing at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn. last weekend. The Rocket pitchers struggled in the circle and will look to rebound after posting a combined 9.36 ERA. Freshman Marla Gooding recorded the only win in her first collegiate start versus NC Central, as sophomore No.1 pitcher Alli Beery seeks her first win of the season.   The UT offense had a strong weekend overall, hitting for the league’s third-best average of .287 with nine doubles, four triples and two home runs. Senior right fielder Lindsey Tobias led the way with seven hits in 15 at-bats (.538 BA), including three triples, one double and one long ball. Her three triples are already the highest season total for a Rocket since 2010. 
Western Michigan
Western Michigan played four one-run games this past weekend, going 2-2 in such games.  Loren Nagy became the 34th player in program history to hit two doubles in a game, it was the 39th time it occurred.  Becca Shemberger worked her sixth career complete game and the second one-hit effort in a game started.  Mackenzie Shepeck had back to back starts with a career high eight strikeouts and registered her first career complete game.