Softball Opens Horizon League Championship against Valpo

Senior Natalie Hernandez
Senior Natalie Hernandez

May 6, 2014

2014 Championship Bracket Get Acrobat Reader

Horizon League Network

The UIC softball team will make its way to Dayton, Ohio, to begin competition at the Horizon League Championship, hosted by Wright State at the WSU Softball Field, May 7-10. The sixth-seeded Flames are set to challenge No. 3 seed Valparaiso in the first game of the tournament on Wednesday at 10 a.m. CT. All games will be streamed live on the Horizon League Network.

The winner of Wednesday's contest will advance to face No. 2 Wright State at 3 p.m., while the team with the loss will await its second game on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

UIC clinched the No. 6 seed after winning its final series of the season against Oakland this past weekend (May 3-4). Kelly Kennedy had seven hits in the series followed by Courtney Heeley and Jenna Marsalli with six hits, while Heeley contributed eight RBI. Alice Fitzpatrick picked up two wins as she calculated a 1.91 ERA in 14.2 innings while striking out 11 and walking just four.

Natalie Hernandez (.396) and Jacki Fletcher (.390) own the second- and third-best batting averages, respectively, in the Horizon League this season, while Paige Peterson is hitting .431 against conference opponents. Hernandez additionally owns the most RBI (37) and best slugging percentage (.676), second-most runs (35) and third-most hits (55) and home runs (9) among League opponents.

Fitzpatrick has led the Flames on the mound this season with a 3.92 ERA in 103.2 innings pitched while producing five wins and 68 strikeouts. Bridget Boyle also has five wins with a 5.14 ERA in 96.2 innings, followed by Elaine Heflin (6.40 ERA) and Lindsay Melson (8.56).

Valparaiso heads into the Horizon League Championship after ending its season with a 1-2 series loss to regular-season champion Green Bay, earning the No. 3 seed ahead of No. 4 Youngstown State and No. 5 Cleveland State. During the regular season, the Flames and Crusaders split their doubleheader, with UIC winning 10-2 before falling 6-2.

Kaitlyn Ranieri stands out from all other Crusaders with a season batting average of .371 and a .532 average against conference foes. Ranieri additionally leads and places in the Horizon League top-10 in the categories of runs (35), hits (62) and slugging percentage (.581), as she has tallied eight home runs and 32 RBI behind respective leaders Amanda Wisniewski with 11 homers and Tarah McShane with 33 RBI.

While Sierra Pico owns the best overall ERA with 4.16, it is Taylor Weissenhofer who has excelled in the Horizon League with a conference ERA of 2.46 and record of 7-4. On the season, Weissenhofer has struck out 110, 54 HL, batters in 119.2 innings while owning a winning record of 14-11.

The Last Meeting
March 30, 2014
Chicago, Ill. (Cacciatore Stadium)
Softball Run-Rules Valpo, Falls in Game Two
The UIC softball team (6-13, 1-1 HL) split its doubleheader with Valparaiso on Sunday at DePaul's Cacciatore Stadium to open Horizon League competition. The Flames scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth to secure a 10-2 five-inning victory in game one before falling short in their second game to the Crusaders, 6-2.