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    Softball to Take on Valparaiso at Cacciatore Stadium

    Senior Jacki Fletcher is hitting .469 to lead the Horizon League this season.
    Senior Jacki Fletcher is hitting .469 to lead the Horizon League this season.
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    March 28, 2014

    CHICAGO – The UIC softball team (5-12) will make the short trip up to Lincoln Park to face Valparaiso (6-20, 1-1 HL) in its first Horizon League series this weekend at DePaul’s Cacciatore Stadium, with a single game set for 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday and a doubleheader beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

    After having their opening conference series at Cleveland State postponed and midweek game against Purdue cancelled, the Flames return to competition having last competed at the Hoosier Classic on March 14-15. UIC went 3-1 at the tournament with wins over Toledo, Michigan State and Indiana. Sophomore Laura Swan, who posted a .615 batting average after going 8-for-13 at the plate to earn her the Horizon League Player of the Week accolade, and senior Natalie Hernandez, who hit .500 with four doubles and one home run, led the Flames offensively.

    So far this season, senior Jacki Fletcher has produced the best batting average (.469) for UIC to place 16th in the national rankings, while junior Paige Peterson is hitting .393 and Hernandez boasts a .345 average with a team-high three home runs and nine RBI.

    On the mound this season, sophomore Bridget Boyle has tallied the lowest ERA of 3.86 through 49.0 innings pitched, while sophomore Alice Fitzpatrick has the fewest hits allowed (33) and freshman Elaine Heflin has the most strikeouts (33). All three members of the Flames’ pitching staff have at least one win, while Boyle holds the best record at 2-3.

    Valparaiso enters into the series having lost to Eastern Illinois, 3-0, on Thursday (March 27) after going 1-1 in its Horizon League opener against Youngstown State (March 22). During their preseason, the Crusaders collected wins against Seton Hall, UMass Lowell, Longwood, Weber State and BYU.

    Tarah McShane (.313), Kaitlyn Ranieri (.303) and Amanda Wisniewski (.293) lead Valparaiso this season on offense. McShane and Wisniewski have combined for 10 home runs, while they have tallied 18 and 15 RBI, respectively, alongside Janelle Bouchard with 14 RBI. Ranieri has the largest hit total with 23, followed by Wisniewski with 22 and McShane with 21.

    Sierra Pico has received 12 starts in the circle for the Crusaders and owns the best ERA at 4.16, followed by Mollie Lindeman (4.55), Ashlyn Michalak (5.12) and Taylor Weissenhofer (6.20). Weissenhofer, who has made six starts in 13 appearances, has four wins on the season and has struck out the most batters (37).

    The Crusaders were picked to finish first in the Horizon League preseason coaches’ poll after receiving 46 points, just one point ahead of UIC, as both teams collected four first-place votes. In the all-time series, the Flames hold a 56-14 advantage.

    The Last Meeting
    May 9, 2013
    Chicago, Ill.
    Flames Upset In League Tournament
    The top-seeded UIC softball team saw its season come to a close Thursday at Flames Field as No. 3 Valparaiso defeated the Flames 3-1. Junior Jenna Marsalli went the distance with a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to try to salvage the Flames' season.