THIS WEEK: Dakota State softball team (8-6) looks to snap their losing streak as they head to the Heritage Park in Omaha, Neb. this weekend for a four-game series with Saint Mary (1-11). The doubleheader will be held on Saturday and Sunday. First game is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. on each day.
LAST MEETING: Dakota State and Saint Mary (Neb.) met nearly four years ago in Omaha, Neb. on March 28 and 29, 2008. The Trojans and Flames split their four-game series. Saint Mary won the first game 4-2 and Trojans bounced back with a 6-2 second game victory on March 28, 2008. CSM recorded a comeback 4-3 victory in the first game on March 29, 2008. DSU ended the four-game series with an 11-2 win.
ABOUT SAINT MARY (NEB.): Saint Mary (Neb.), under the direction of fourth-year head coach Chuck Brewer, dropped their first 11 games of the season before recording their first win on March 15. The Flames defeated Missouri Valley 11-9 as part of the Tucson Invitational in Tucson, Ariz. Saint Mary is currently 1-11 on the season. The Flames are a member of the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference. CSM is 0-2 at home after dropping a doubleheader to Dordt (Iowa) 7-6 and 1-0 on March 6.
TROJANS DROP HOME OPENER: After playing a 12-game schedule in the Snowbird Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C. from March 4-11, DSU returned home on March 17 for a doubleheader with Northwestern (Iowa). The Red Raiders, a member of the Great Plains Athletic Conference, swept the Trojans by the score of 5-0 and 9-5. DSU got singles from Taylor Mackey, Brittany Hill, Emily Kulp and Jessica McLane in the first game. Alisa Balesteri went 2-for-2 at the plate with a triple, a single and two RBIs in the second game of the doubleheader. Renaye Gamson added two singles. Mackey had a double and two RBIs. Lexy Mille recorded a single.
NATIONAL TEAM RANKINGS: According to DakStats-NAIA statistical website as of Thursday, March 22, Dakota State ranks eighth in the nation in stolen bases per game (2.9), 23rd in chances per game (31.2), 26th in total stolen bases (41) and 30th in batting average (.336). The Trojans also rank 31st in the nation in assists per game (9.4), 36th in slugging percentage (.477), 39th in hits per game (9.0) and 40th in home runs per game (0.6).
INDIVIDUAL NATIONAL RANKINGS: Alisa Balesteri ranks first in the nation in total walks allowed (1) and 33rd in assists per game (2.5). Lexy Mille is first in the nation in fielding percentage (1.000). Brittany Hill ranks fourth in the nation in hits per game (1.9) and batting average (.587), 8th in slugging percentage (1.022), 9th in total bases per game (3.4) and 9th in home runs per game (0.4). Taylor Mackey is 15th in the nation in total saves (3) and 29th in stolen bases per game (0.6). Jessica McLane ranks 24th in the nation in putouts per game (7.4) and 26th in chances per game (7.9). Leslie Nieman is 39th in the nation in total stolen bases with 11.
DSU QUICK LEADERS: Brittany Hill leads the Trojans with 27 hits and a batting average of .587. She recorded six home runs during the Snowbird Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Hill also leads the team with 17 RBIs (1.2 per game) and a slugging percentage of 1.022. Taylor Mackey recorded an earned run average of 2.15 in 52 innings and produced a 4-3 record and three saves this season. Mackey records 36 strikeouts this season (6.2 strikeouts per nine inning). Leslie Nieman leads DSU with 11 stolen bases.
INDEPENDENT WEEKLY RANKINGS: The first Association of Independent Institutions softball weekly ranking was released on Tuesday, March 20. The rankings are:
(T-1) Cal State San Marcos (28-2 overall record)
(T-1) Houston-Victoria (Texas) (16-4)
(3) Louisiana State-Alexandria (14-11)
(4) Thomas (Ga.) (11-17)
(5) Valley City State (N.D.) (7-6)
(6) Dickinson State (N.D.) (8-12)
(7) Patten (Calif.) (9-14)
(8) Dakota State (S.D.) (8-6)
(9) British Columbia (B.C.) (5-19-1)
(10) Jamestown (N.D.) (8-5)
A.I.I. SOFTBALL INDEPENDENT TOURNAMENT: The Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) softball independent tournament will take place in Columbus, Ga., hosted by Thomas (Ga.) University. Besides the host-team Thomas, five other teams will qualify to the independent tournament to be played on May 3-5 at Golden Park (where the 1996 Olympics softball competitions were held).
STAY CONNECTED: Stay connected with Dakota State baseball and athletics all season long at www.twitter.com/DaSUAthletics.
UP NEXT: Dakota State returns home Wednesday for an A.I.I. conference doubleheader with Mayville State. First game is set for 3 p.m. at Thue Softball Complex in Madison, S.D.
Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director