Southern Illinois Salukis
Southern Illinois completed a 33-22 season earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament after winning the Missouri Valley Tournament Championship.
After finishing third in the MVC with a 17-8 conference record, the Salukis won three games in two days including defeating the top two seeds in the tournament defeating No. 2 Illinois State 2-0 in the semifinals and defeating No. 1 Northern Iowa 4-3 in the championship game for their first conference title since 1991.
Riding into the NCAA Tournament with a seven-game winning streak, SIU will look to continue the momentum in Oxford.
The Salukis faced the fewest NCAA Tournament teams in the Oxford Regional having faced only three Tournament-bound teams in Mississippi State, Kentucky and New Mexico State.
In those games, Southern Illinois went 0-5, losing both games versus NMSU in nine innings, getting outscored 26-9.
Offensively, the Salukis were middle of the pack in the Missouri Valley scoring the fifth-most runs (238) and ranking fifth in slugging percentage (.394) and third in on-base percentage (.359).
The Salukis are led by infielder Shaye Harre, who won the MVC Tournament MVP, leading the team with a .348 batting average and 40 RBIs while placing second on the team with eight home runs.
Harre led the conference with a .536 on base percentage, 18 doubles and 56 walks, and ranked third in the MVC with a .652 slugging percentage.
SIU also receive valuable contributions from outfielder Merri Anne Patterson and third baseman Sydney Jones.
Patterson was second on the team with 39 RBIs to go along with seven home runs and a .293 batting average and was named to the MVC All-Tournament Team.
Jones is one of the Salukis’ power hitters leading the team and ranking tied for third in the conference with nine home runs to go along with a .250 batting average and 26 RBIs.
In the pitching circle, Southern Illinois ranked first in the conference in innings pitched (378.1), fourth in team ERA (2.66), second in opposing batting average (.242) and second in strikeouts (261 Ks).
The Salukis have relied on three pitchers this season with Brianna Jones headlining as the ace.
Jones is 18-12 with a 2.18 ERA (fourth in the MVC) in 40 appearances and 25 starts this season.
Impressively, in Jones’ 25 starts, she threw 21 complete games and five shutouts.
Behind Jones, SIU have two pitchers who also throw the ball well in Savanna Dover and Nicole Doyle.
Dover, who was also named to the All-Tournament Team, went 7-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 24 appearances and 18 starts this season.
Throwing seven complete games and three shutouts, Dover allowed the second-fewest runs in the Missouri Valley Conference (41) and the fourth-fewest hits (82).
Doyle is the Salukis’ No. 3 pitcher going 8-7 with a 3.72 ERA in 22 appearances and 12 starts.
To go along with four complete games and one shutout, Doyle allowed the second-fewest hits in the conference (72) and fifth-fewest runs (46).
Arizona State’s lineup will have to be patient and really pick at what pitches to hit at while also looking to keep SIU from putting hits together consecutively.