COLUMBIA, Ky. – For the second time in three seasons the Madonna University softball team is seeded fourth in their NAIA Softball Opening Round matchup and will face off the host team on day one. This season the Crusaders will square off against host Lindsey Wilson College at 4:30 p.m. on Monday evening.
In 2015, Madonna traveled to Concordia University – Irvine and faced then host and third-ranked Concordia, and won the first game 4-3. They finished the opening round 3-2, falling to Dickinson State University in the "if necessary" championship game.
If they are to advance to the programs first NAIA Softball World Series, the Crusaders will again have to upset a ranked host team in the first round of the tournament. The Blue Raiders, who play their home games at Marilyn D. Sparks Park, ranked sixth in the final NAIA Coaches' Top 25 Poll and were the first at-large program in the forty-team field. They will also need to become the third fourth seed in five years to advance from an opening round, joining Morningside and Webber International who did so last year.
Lindsey Wilson is 36-11 this season and are one of five teams to appear in all five of the NAIA Opening Rounds since the event began in 2013. LWC enters with an 11-4 record in five opening round appearances with two event wins.
Mid-South Conference Pitcher of the Year, Casey Bryan, leads the Blue Raiders in the circle with a 22-6 record and a 1.79 earned run average across 176 innings. As a team, Lindsey Wilson holds a 1.93 ERA with 288 strikeouts and a .239 opponent batting average.
The offense is powered by Amber Foukes who leads the team with 47 runs driven in and is tied for the team lead with 10 home runs while batting .311. As a team, the Blue Raiders are hitting .315 with 271 runs scored, 72 doubles, 1 triple, 42 home runs and 245 RBI. They have a .389 on-base and a .458 slugging percentage.
Much like their opponent, Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year Erin Combs (SR/Imlay City, Mich.) leads Madonna on the rubber with a 21-7 record, a 1.51 ERA in 153.1 innings pitched and a team-best 97 strikeouts. As a team, Madonna has a 2.22 ERA with 188 strikeouts and a .248 opponent batting average.
Offensively, Morgan Kaiser (SR/Flat Rock, Mich.) leads the team with a .416 average and 42 runs scored while Nicky Salloum (SR/Livonia, Mich.) paces the team in doubles (18) and RBI (41) with a .377 batting average and a pair of home runs. The Crusaders are hitting .321 as a team with 224 runs scored, 69 doubles, 7 triples, 11 home runs and 198 RBI. They slug .418 with a .379 on-base percentage.
Live audio coverage of the game will be available free of charge via the Madonna Athletics Network while live video is available via the Lindsey Wilson Sports Network for $7.95 per contest or $19.95 for the entire tournament. Audio and video coverage is available at madonnacrusaders.com/live.
Live stats of all games will be done via Dakstats with links available here.
For those planning to attend the games at Marilyn D. Sparks Park, admission is $5 per day and free for children under six years of age.
For more information on the 2017 NAIA Softball National Championships, click here.
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