April 3, 2013
LOYOLA (12-11) vs. IPFW (13-7)
April 4, 2013 - 2 p.m. CT
Chicago, Ill. - Loyola Softball Park
Series Record vs. IPFW: 1-1
After playing its first 23 games away from home, Loyola finally returns to Loyola Softball Park for its 2013 home opener when it hosts IPFW in a doubleheader Thursday afternoon. Thursday's twinbill marks the first meeting between the teams since the Ramblers picked up a 7-6 victory in 2005.
Under third-year head coach Missy Beseres, Loyola has collected eight wins over BCS conference foes, including five against Big Ten teams. The Ramblers are coming off a 1-0 victory at Northwestern on Tuesday, their third win in the last five outings versus the Wildcats.
Dating back to last season, Loyola has won four straight games at Loyola Softball Park and since the start of the 2011 campaign is 22-11 (.667) at home.
The trio of Brooke Andresen, Lauren Moore, and Lauren Zaworski is batting a collective .362 (77 for 213) and has struck out just 20 times. The remainder of the Loyola roster is hitting .220 (89 for 405) with 85 strikeouts.
Three runs has been the barometer for success for Loyola since the start of the 2012 campaign. When the Ramblers have scored at least three runs, they own a 31-9 (.775) record.
Loyola was picked to win the Horizon League title in the annual preseason poll of the League's coaches. This marks the first time since 2008 that the Ramblers have been tabbed to win the conference crown.
Despite dropping two of its first three Horizon League contests, Loyola, which was picked to win the 2013 regular-season title, should not panic. In fact, the last time the Ramblers opened League action with a 1-2 record, they finished with a 16-7 ledger and claimed the 2011 regular-season crown.
Following Thursday's doubleheader versus IPFW, Loyola welcomes defending Horizon League champion Valparaiso to Loyola Softball Park for a three-game weekend series, April 6-7.
THE BEAT GOES ON FOR BROOKE
Shortstop Brooke Andresen carries a season-best, 10-game hitting streak into Thursday's doubleheader versus IPFW and during that stretch, the senior is batting .486 (17 for 35) with eight RBI and eight runs scored. The sweet-swinging lefty has bumped her season average over 100 points, to .355, thanks to this recent tear. A three-time First Team All-Horizon League honoree, Andresen has never hit below .325 in a season and last month she became Loyola's career hits leader. A career .346 hitter, Andresen has tallied 193 hits in her illustrious career and also needs 14 runs to match Tara Miller's school record of 115. She is batting .368 (7 for 19) with runners in scoring position this year.
Last year, lefthander Brittany Gardner put together one of the best seasons ever by a Rambler hurler. The Orland Park, Ill., native compiled an 18-10 record and a 2.69 ERA and struck out a Loyola single-season record 205 batters en route to Horizon League Pitcher of the Year and Second Team All-Great Lakes Region honors. Gardner, who is 22-11 with a pair of saves and 274 strikeouts in her last 38 appearances, opened the 2013 season in sterling fashion, tossing her second career one-hitter and striking out six in a 7-0 win over Rhode Island. Gardner enters Thursday's doubleheader against IPFW just 13 wins shy of Kari Klier's (1992-95) career record of 51 victories, and she also needs 47 strikeouts to equal Kiler's all-time record of 535 punchouts. She struck out a season-high 12 batters in a hard-luck loss to Illinois on March 15, and now has 12 career double-digit strikeout games to her credit. On Tuesday, she pitched a three-hit shutout as Loyola defeated Northwestern, 1-0. Gardner now owns four career wins versus Big Ten Conference foes.
HOT BAT AT THE HOT CORNER
Third baseman Lauren Moore is having a breakthrough season, batting .346 (28 for 81) with team highs of seven home runs and 22 RBI. The sure-handed junior, who has committed only two errors this spring, had hit only seven career home runs coming into this season and has never batted higher than .281. Last season drove in a personal-best 26 runs, and this year Loyola is 5-2 when she hits a roundtripper.
Sophomore Annie Korth, a Second Team All-Horizon League selection as a freshman, has started to revert back to her solid rookie form after getting off to a slow start this season. The outfielder, who made a highlight-reel catch when she stole a home run away from Marisa Bast of Northwestern on Tuesday by reaching over the centerfield fence to make a game-changing play, is batting .444 (8 for 18) over the last half dozen outings. That surge has improved her season average from .163 to .246 and the Elburn, Ill., native has three multi-hit games in her last five outings.
Junior Lauren Zaworski hit a personal-best .262 (34 for 130) last season but through 23 games this year is hitting .393 (22 for 56) as she attempts to become the first Rambler ever to hit higher than .389 ... Sophomore Tarran Shaffer is batting .313 (5 for 16) over the last five contests ... Under third-year head coach Missy Beseres, Loyola is 18-15 in one-run games and has won each of its last two games by a single run.