Duhawks look to improve on last year's IIIAC tournament appearance
Sat, Mar. 5, 2011 - [Softball]

The Loras College softball team recently kicked off their season with a couple doubleheaders in Rochester, Minnesota in the RCTC dome. The split against Gustavus Adolphus College after winning the first game in the bottom of the seventh, 7-6, and lost the second game 9-1. The Duhawks then faced #21 University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and battled hard against the nationally ranked Eagles but came up short, losing 4-0 and 6-4. Up next will be the annual trip to Florida, where Loras will play eight games in five days. The Duhawks will then play UW-Platteville and Clarke University on the road before opening their home season against Carthage College and beginning the Iowa Conference schedule by hosting Buena Vista University on April 2.

This spring will be Head Coach Ashley Rogers's second year leading the program and she expects the team to build off of their first conference tournament appearance in three years.

Loras returns both pitchers from last season, Kellie Klein and Michelle Sabatini, and have a few freshmen that may see some time in the circle as well. Klein led the team with twelve wins and an ERA of 2.37. Opponents hit .229 against the sophomore and she led the team with 5 shutouts.

Offensively for the Duhawks, they will be looking to replace second baseman Michelle Bahl, who earned a spot on the All-Region third team while breaking the Loras career marks in RBIs and homeruns. This season, the Duhawks will be relying on a variety of experience and youth to carry the load. Tracy Sullivan, a member of the All-IIAC second team last year, hit .252 with 3 homeruns and 20 RBIs. Klein also earned a spot on the All-IIAC second team and served double duty pitching and also filling in at first base and designated hitter on her days off. She had a slugging percentage of .524 with 5 homeruns and 11 runs batted in.

Senior leadoff hitter Kelsey Techlin, who was second on the team in both hits and runs with 22 and 29 respectively, will be looking to once again be a threat on the bases this season after recording 18 steals last year in an impressive 19 attempts, which was second most in the conference. Sara Palczynski recorded 21 RBIs and 2 homeruns of her own. Sophomore shortstop Niki Rivera earned a spot on the All-IIAC second team with a slugging percentage of .412, 3 homeruns and 17 runs batted in.

The Duhawks scored over 150 runs and set a team record with 23 homeruns last season. Loras finished third in the Iowa Conference in fielding with a percentage of .961. This year's team will be looking to making an impact in the Iowa Conference regular season race and doing some damage in Iowa Conference tournament.