The 22nd-ranked Truman State University softball team heads to its first Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament this Friday through Sunday, as the Bulldogs carry the No. 3 seed into Friday's first-round game against Lewis (Ill.) in East Peoria, Ill.
The Bulldogs (40-9, 30-6 GLVC) will take on a Lewis (23-22, 17-15 GLVC) squad that enters the tournament having won 13 of its last 15 games after starting the season with a 10-20 record.
It will have been six weeks since Truman and Lewis last met on the diamond, with the Bulldogs earning wins of 7-0 and 4-1 in Kirksville on March 15.
Truman, meanwhile, has gone 11-4 in its last 15 games, including wins against both top-seeded Indianapolis and No. 2 seed Missouri-St. Louis.
The 40 wins marks only the fifth time in program history that a Bulldog unit hit that standard, while the team's 30 GLVC wins were the most by any team in the league this season.
The Bulldogs have been well-rounded in all facets this season, leading the GLVC in all three major categories â?? hitting (.333 average), pitching (1.15 ERA), and fielding (.972 efficiency).
Truman has seven regular starters all hitting better than .330 on the season, while the sophomore tandem of Kindra Henze and Kelsea Dorsey have struck out 298 hitters in 322 innings of work.
The duo has combined to throw all but 1.2 of the team's defensive innings this year, leading to 44 complete games and 18 shutouts.
Junior Cate Simon is the team's leader in batting average (.394), narrowly edging out senior teammate Kelsey Bollman (.393), while having also blasted a squad-best nine home runs.
Bollman, meanwhile, has 12 doubles and six home runs, with junior Andrea Klipsch sitting in the top-10 of six GLVC individual categories.
She is hitting .385 with a team-best 38 runs scored, 15 doubles, and 42 RBI out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
The Bulldogs are under the direction of eighth-year head coach Erin Brown, who rejoined her alma mater in August of 2006 after serving as the head coach at Westminster (Mo.) College.
She was a three-time letterwinner at Truman and played on three NCAA regional finalist teams.
Regional Poll Release:
The Bulldogs slipped one spot to No. 4 in this week's NCAA Midwest regional ranking, announced by the Div. II softball national committee on Wednesday afternoon.
Truman moved down one slot after holding the No. 3 ranking for the previous two weeks, with only action at this weekend's GLVC tournament remaining before the selection show on Monday, May 5.
Truman was by-passed by Wayne (Mich.) State this week, with GLVC-foes Indianapolis and Missouri-St. Louis holding firm in the top two spots.
Grand Valley (Mich.) State moved up two spots to No. 5, while Ashland (Ohio) dropped one spot to No. 6. Northwood (Mich.) moved up one to No. 7, with a fifth GLIAC program â?? Saginaw Valley â?? slipping two to No. 8.
GLVC-member Bellarmine held steady at No. 9, while GLIAC-member Ohio Dominican entered the rankings at No. 10.
Courtesy Truman State University