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This Week In Fastpitch

THE CAMELS ARE COMING:Campbell University (Buies Creek, North Carolina) (22-8) is on a six game winning streak and has won ten of its last 11 games. Two-time Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC) Player of the Week Shannon O'Bryan is hitting .505 with a school-record nine home runs. O'Bryan leads the conference in several offensive categories. Tiffany Moyer (.388), Jessica Waters (.363), and Lisa Evans (.333) are other top hitters. As a team, the Camels are batting .333 and are averaging about six runs per contest. CU is led in the circle by Kathy Freaney, who tossed a no-hitter against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday, striking out 11. Michelle Carey has set a new career high in wins, posting a 10-3 mark. Annie Lewis leads the TAAC in saves (7), and has collected a 0.75 ERA.

WARTBURG ALSO OFF TO HOT START: The Iowa Athletic Conference (NCAA Division III) softball race has been dominated by Simpson College and Central College in recent years, but Wartburg College's (Waverly, Iowa) Knights are serving notice that they may be ready to challenge the "Big Two." The Knights have won 13 of their first 16 games including a 13-game winning streak. Two freshman, pitcher Kelly Watkins and catcher Amy Kueker, and junior outfielder Amy Steffen, have been instrumental in Wartburg's season-opening surge.

SCHADE'S NUMBER TO BE RETIRED: Former Simpson All-American Kelly Schade will have her uniform number (11) retired on Saturday, April 7, in a ceremony prior to the doubleheader against Buena Vista. Schade's number will be only the second in school history to be retired, joining the No. 23 of former Simpson football All-American, Ricky Gales. Schade earned numerous honors during her career including the 1999-00 NCAA Top VIII award, the 1999 Honda Award as Division III's Female Athlete of the Year, 1999 Verizon/CoSIDA Academic Player of the Year. She was a three-time All American on the field and two-time first team Academic All-American.

THINGS TO DO IN OMAHA: A March snowstorm has produced a schedule change which results in a Division III doubleheader between No. 1 St. Mary's University (12-3) and No. 7 Central College (5-1) Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska. Central and St. Mary's were among the teams originally scheduled to compete in the Simpson Classic at Indianola this weekend, but that tourney was cancelled because of snow on the fields. So Central coach George Wares arranged a three-game slate for Central in Omaha with Iowa Conference rival William Penn and St. Mary's. William Penn will meet St. Mary's at noon, with Central facing Penn at 2 p.m., then taking on St. Mary's at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Games will be played at Claussen-Westgate Field, the home field of the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

MILESTONES: North Dakota State University head coach Mitch Hanson recorded win No. 300 of his career with a 5-2 Bison victory over St. Edward's University on March 15. He has guided the Bison to a 306-121 record in seven seasons. Hanson led NDSU to the softball program's first NCAA title in 2000 and has taken the school to three tournament appearances.

Richard Stockton College (Pomona, New Jersey) head softball coach Val Julien earned career victory No. 200 as the Ospreys defeated Carroll (Wisconsin) 4-0 in Orlando, Florida, on March 13. Alison Barbito allowed five hits and fanned seven batters to pick up the victory on the mound. "It's very nice to have my 200th win presented to me by such a nice group of young ladies," said Julien of the milestone. Julien reached the 200-win mark in her 15th season as the head coach at Stockton. She owns the longest consecutive tenure of any head coach on the Stockton staff. She took the reins of the softball program in 1987 after serving as an assistant to Dot Hirschfeld for three seasons.

GATORS' BERGER SETS SCHOOL HIT MARK: University of Florida sophomore catcher/DP Bree Berger had a school single-game record five hits, including a three-run homer, to give the Gators an 18-3, six-inning win over Kentucky on March 17. In the game, Berger was 5-for-5 with two runs, four RBI and a home run. She led Florida to a 5-1 mark for the week.

GET THE ROLAIDS: With less than two seasons remaining with the Cal State Fullerton Titans, Christy Robitaille is poised to become one of the best relief pitchers in NCAA history. She has collected 13 saves in her career and currently ranks ninth all-time. Robitaille needs just 12 more saves to surpass Notre Dame's Kelly Nichols, who set the record with 24 career saves from 1995-98.

 


OUTSTANDING Division I PLAYER PERFORMANCES


"TOPPING" THE BIG WEST: Cal State Fullerton sophomore catcher Jenny Topping was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week for the third time this season. She also earned the honor on Feb. 19, after the Titans swept through the field at the Chevron Paradise Classic, and on Mar. 5 after a tournament-leading performance at the Worth Invitational. Topping hit a blistering .474 for the seven games in the 2001 Kia Klassic hosted by Cal State Fullerton, featuring nine of the top 25 teams in the nation, and was the tournament's most dominating hitter. She was 9-for-19 from the plate, scoring seven runs, smacking four doubles, and slugging three home runs while driving in seven. Topping slugged 1.158 for the tournament and walked nine times while amassing an on-base percentage of .655. Through Sunday's Kia Klassic games,Topping was hitting .432 with 29 runs, 13 doubles, nine home runs, 36 RBI and an .895 slugging percentage. She has been walked 26 times this year, which ranks in a tie for seventh on the Titans all-time single season list.

THE BARBER DID IT: Georgia freshman outfielder Nicole Barber went 7-for-10 over the three-game series against Auburn and drove in the only three runs the Bulldogs scored all weekend. She was 3-for-4 in steals to run her SEC leading total of stolen bases to 27 (in 29 attempts). Barber's .700 average this weekend raised her average to .407 on the season, with four doubles, two triples and 15 RBI. As the team's leadoff hitter she continues to get the job done by getting on base and putting the ball in play. Barber has a .462 on base average and has only been called out on strikes three times in 108 at bats.

NO REST FOR THE WEEKEND: Missouri pitcher Stephanie Falk experienced her second straight weekend without allowing an earned run. In the last two weekends, Falk has appeared in eight games and has pitched 42.2 innings without an earned run. In five appearances this past weekend, Falk pitched 25 innings and allowed 16 hits and two unearned runs as the Tigers wrapped up the championship of the Missouri Invitational.

SHE'S A JAYHAWK: Megan Urquhart of Kansas was named MVP of the KU Holiday Inn Invitational as KU won the tournament championship. Urquhart was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI as the Jayhawks beat Tulsa in the championship game.

BOLLINGER BOILSWashington freshman pitcher Tia Bollinger was 3-0 with no earned runs in 21 innings for the Huskies. She allowed seven hits and three complete game shutouts while walking just two and striking out 17. Bollinger has now pitched five consecutive shutouts and was 18-2 with an 0.86 ERA through games of Sunday, March 18.

STOKING THE 'NOLES:Jen White-Stokes led Florida State in hitting and on the mound last week as the Seminoles went 5-1 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2001 Tallahassee Democrat/Florida State Invitational before the tournament was cancelled due to weather. White- Stokes posted a 3-0 record with a 0.37 ERA and pitched three complete games including two shutouts. She walked just four batters in those three outings and she held opposing batters to a .119 average. She also allowed only eight hits in the three games.

LAIRD APPROACHES SEC MILESTONES: 


Outstanding NCAA Division II Performances.


Shortstop Katie Morgis of Merrimack (Mass.) went 8-for-10 with 10 RBI over the team's first four games, leading Merrimack to a 3-1 record. She had two doubles, a triple, six runs scored and three walks. She was also was perfect at defensively at shortstop in 12 chances in the field. Her best game: 3-for-3 with a double and five RBI in a 9-0 win over East Stroudsburg.

Shannon Sims, who plays third base for the University of Alabama-Huntsville , was 10-for-22 in 6 wins against Kentucky Wesleyan, West Alabama, and Valdosta State. She had 12 RBI, including a game winning 3-run HR against West Alabama and a 2-run game winning HR against Valdsota State.

Megan Johnson, a senior outfielder from South Dakota State University has been on fire this season for the Jacks. In 16 games, Johnson is batting.549 (28-for-51). She currently has a 20-game hitting streak dating back to last season. She has also stolen 14 bases in 15 attempts and recently broke the SDSU career stolen base record of 30 (she now has 33).

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville pitcher RyAnn Spann pitched back-to-back no-hitters and gave up just one earned run for the week while going 3-0. She is now 4-0 with a 0.56 ERA for the season.

Wayne State University (Michigan) pitcher Amy Thiede threw three no- hitters, including one perfect game this past week while competing in the Rebel games in Orlando, Florida. Overall, she was 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA and 50 strikeouts in eight games. She struck out a season and career-high 17 batters in her perfect game against Adelphi. She threw consecutive no-hitters against American International, Adelphi, and Minnesota State Mankato.