May 6, 2003

NKU TO MEET WVWC IN NCAA OPENER

Norse (35-15) try to stop WVWC’s 34-game win streak

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - The Northern Kentucky University softball team will face West Virginia Wesleyan College at 10 a.m. this Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament at Allendale, Mich.

NKU, which enters the NCAA Tournament with a 35-15 record, is the No. 5 seed in the double-elimination Great Lakes Regional Tournament. West Virginia Wesleyan (45-8) is the No. 4 seed in the Great Lakes Regional, which is being hosted by top-seeded Grand Valley State University (46-4).

This is the second straight year that NKU has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Norse - who made their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament a year ago - dropped consecutive games to Grand Valley State and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville last season in the Great Lakes Regional.

If NKU defeats West Virginia Wesleyan, the Norse will face Grand Valley State in the second round at 3 p.m. Thursday. Grand Valley State received a first-round bye in the Great Lakes Regional.

NKU features the top pitching staff in the Great Lakes Valley Conference with a team earned run average of 1.08. Freshman Krystal Lewallen owns a 15-8 record and a 0.75 ERA. Lewallen, who was named the GLVC’s Freshman of the Year, ranks No. 2 in the GLVC with 179 strikeouts.

Sophomore pitcher Emily Breitholle is 13-6 with a 1.37 ERA. Breitholle leads NKU with eight shutouts this season and has 79 strikeouts.

Angie Lindeman and Megan Owens - a pair of sophomores who earned first team All-GLVC honors this season - lead the NKU offense. Lindeman is batting .329 with 11 doubles and 27 runs batted in. Lindeman also leads the team with 19 walks this season.

Owens leads NKU with 30 RBI and is batting .329. Owens also has 11 doubles and is tied for the team lead with two home runs.

Sophomore center fielder Stephanie Leimbach is batting .311 with a team-leading 27 runs scored. Leimbach is also 11-for-15 in stolen base attempts this season.

NKU lost both games at the GLVC Tournament last week, dropping contests to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and the University of Southern Indiana on Friday.

ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA WESLEYAN: The Bobcats (45-8) won the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship last week and own a school-record 34-game winning streak going into the NCAA Tournament.

Danielle Salmons tossed a three-hit shutout against West Liberty State last week in the championship game to lead West Virginia Wesleyan to its third straight WVIAC title. Salmons owns a 23-4 record this season, and teammate Cory Karcesky is 22-4 on the mound in 2003.

Rayner Balciunas is batting .497 and leads the West Virginia Wesleyan offense. Ashley Blandford is hitting .478 with seven home runs and 56 RBI.

 

Emily Breitholle