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    March 20, 2012

    CHICAGO – Before the UIC softball team (12-12 overall/0-0 Horizon) begins conference play Friday, the team faces Western Illinois Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. (CT) in Macomb, Ill.


    UIC has posted a 12-12 record on the season, including a forfeit by Stetson at the UCF & Holiday Inn Select Spring Fling … junior Devin Miller (Chicago, Ill./Loyola Academy) (8-7) and senior Ashley Hewett () (3-5) have been the featured pitchers for the Flames … junior Melissa Preish () leads the squad with a .438 batting average with 32 hits, five doubles, a triple and three homeruns … Preish, Coryn Schmit (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) and sophomore Jacki Fletcher (Lowell, Ind./Lowell) have started all 23 games that have been played.


    The squad carries a .500 record (13-13), including a 5-1 record in the Summit League … freshman Sammy Marshall leads the team with a .389 batting average with 37 hits on 95 at-bats … the team’s main pitchers are Hailey Bickford (4-6) with a 2.62 ERA and Kailey Michelini (7-4) with a 2.78 ERA … UIC and Western Illinois have both faced North Dakota this season, where the Flames won 12-7 and the Leathernecks won 4-0 … WIU faced fellow Horizon League team, Wright State, and dropped in a 4-2 decision.


    Venturella welcomes a new coaching staff ... hitting coach, Sami Baugh, who served as the top assistant coach at Central Michigan for the past four years. Prior to her coaching stint, Baugh was a four-time letterwinning catcher and three-time Academic all-Big Ten selection at Iowa ... pitching coach, Eileen Canney, a two-time All-American and former Northwestern pitcher joins the Flames with a wealth of playing experience at the collegiate, national and international level. Canney served as a coach during the 2011 Under Armour All-American high school game ... volunteer assistant, Heather Han, joins the staff after playing and coaching at Eastern Michigan.




    A 2012 Horizon League Tournament championship gave the Flames their first NCAA berth since 2004. UIC concluded the 2011 season with the top fielding percentage in the league, .968 percent. Schmit tied for third place in homeruns with 10, while Miller blanked 227 batters to finish third in strikeouts.


    The Flames return to action after playing in their final pre-conference tournament, the Hoosier Classic … the team posted a 2-3 record, dropping two games to Indiana and one to Michigan State … the squad defeated North Dakota and Central Michigan … during the weekend, Preish posted a .529 batting average, including three doubles and a homerun.


    Schmit was a postseason first-team all-Horizon League honoree as she had a league-best slugging percentage of .800, while also leading the Flames in homeruns with six. The first baseman logged 16 RBI in 20 League contests, and concluded the season with a .315 batting average. Natalie Hernandez (Glendora, Calif./Glendora) garnered 2011 postseason all-second and all-newcomer Horizon League honors after the shortstop posted a .349 batting average, while committing only four errors on the season. She added nine RBI, three homeruns and a triple during her rookie season.