An early season showdown between two of the preseason favorites is this week's SLIAC Game of the Week when Spalding University takes on Fontbone University in a softball conference double header this week.
At a Glance
This weekend's softball double header between Spalding and Fontbonne will pit two of the preseason favorites against each other. Spalding was picked third in the poll while Fontbonne was chosen as the favorites. Spalding starts the week with a 5-7 overall mark but are off to a hot start in conference action with a 4-0 record. Fontbonne meanwhile is 6-8 overall and will be playing just their second scheduled conference games, as they are set to face Webster on Wednesday.
Spalding returns eight starters from last year's team that made the SLIAC Tournament for a second consecutive year. The Golden Eagles started the year with just one win in their first eight games however have responded nicely with four straight wins. The Golden Eagles are coming off sweeps of MacMurray and Webster as the offense has come to life, scoring six or more runs in all four games.
Spalding is currently hitting .310 this season, fourth best in the conference, and have scored 54 runs over their 12 games. Although they have yet to hit a home run they still rank second in the league with 22 extra base hits, including ranking first in doubles. Junior outfielder Becca Mouser leads the offense with a .389 batting average and nine runs batted in while Brooke Conder, a senior, is hitting .379 this season with a team high four stolen bases. The Golden Eagles pitching staff is led by junior Kelci Flener, the reigning SLIAC Pitcher of the Year. Flener is 3-2 with one save this season with a 2.29 earned-run average and 49 strikeouts in just 33.2 innings pitched. Flener is also dangerous at the plate where she is hitting .355 with six runs batted in.
This year has been one of streaks so far for the Griffins. After winning their first four games in Florida the Griffins dropped their next three. They then went 2-2 before falling in their next three games, including a loss to Division II Lindenwood and DIII nationally ranked Emory. Despite their tough early season competition the Fontbonne pitching staff still ranks first in the league in E.R.A. with a 2.33 mark and three shutouts. It has been a two person show on the mound with juniors Madison Leonard and Lindsay Schaefer making a combined 13 of 14 starts. Leonard has notched three wins and four complete games this season already while recording 46 strikeouts in 44.2 innings pitched. Schaefer has picked up two wins and three complete games while limiting opponents to a .268 batting average this year.
While the Griffins pitchers are off to a fast start the offense is still looking to find its groove, having scored just 44 runs in 14 games with a league low .232 team batting average. Familiar faces are in the Griffin lineup with senior outfielder Shannon Fitzpatrick again setting the table. Fitzpatrick is hitting a team high .381 this season with a conference best six stolen bases. Cassi Glixman, the 2014 SLIAC Player of the Year, is hitting .333 with two home runs and 12 runs batted in and is the team's top run producer.
- Fontbonne leads the all-time series against Spalding 11-1 with Spalding's lone win coming in the second game of a double header last spring.
- The loss to Spalding last spring snapped a 36 game regular season conference winning streak.
- Fontbonne has won five consecutive SLIAC Tournament titles and four straight regular season championships.
- The last time these two teams met was in the second day of action in the 2014 SLIAC Tournament with Fontbonne handing Spalding a 10-2 loss in 6 innings.