Northwestern @ Ashford University 12:30 p.m. Monday, March 4, Tucson Invitational, Tucson, Ariz.

Schedule note: Field #6

About AU

Located in Clinton, Iowa, Ashford is a member of the Independent.

Tourney info.

Tucson Invitational
Sun, Mar 3 - Sat, Mar 9
Location:Tucson, Ariz.
Softball Heads to Tucson Invitational

Game Time...The Northwestern College softball team will head to play in the Tucson Invitational over the spring break. The Red Raiders will play 10 games in a span of five days, beginning with three games on Monday, March 4, against Ashford (Iowa), Madonna (Mich.) and University of Great Falls (Mont.). They will play Calumet College (Ind.) and Robert Morris (Ill.) on Tuesday, March 5, followed by three games on March 7: Olivet Nazarene (Ill.), Aquinas (Mich.) and Sienna Heights (Mich.). The tournament concludes with games against Peru State (Neb.) and Viterbo (Wis.) on Friday, March 9. Follow all of the results via the Tucson Invitational website at the following link: 

Tucson Invite Website

Scouting Reports...

  Ashford...Ashford is 7-3 so far this season and is a member of the Association of Independent Institutions. They lost to Mount Mercy in the first game of the year but rattled off six straight wins, defeating Lyon, Blue Mountain (2x), Davenport and Waldorf. The Saints then lost 2-of-its-next-3, falling to Culver-Stockton and St. Ambrose while defeating Graceland. 

Ashford finished tied with St. Ambrose and Iowa Wesleyan for fourth place in the Midwest Collegiate Conference with an 11-13 league record, ending the year with a school-record 29 wins overall (29-26). Kevin Jannusch begins his third season with the Saints and returns eight starters and one of his top two pitchers from last year. 

Shelby Hobelman earned all-conference honors in 2012 and leads the team with a .500 batting average. Newcomer Nicole Interrante is hitting .371 with eight RBIs and Alex Bitto, another returning starter, is hitting .364. The Saints are scoring over six runs per game. Megan Frieling returns to anchor the pitching staff and is 2-2 with a 2.00 ERA. Ashford's pitching staff is giving up 4.2 runs per game. This will be first ever game between the Saints and Northwestern.

  Madonna...The Crusaders are making their season debut at next week's Tucson Invite. Al White begins his14th season as head coach and 22nd year overall with the program. He returns nearly everyone off a 2012 team that won its third straight Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) postseason championship. They also won the regular season title and qualified for the NAIA National Championships where they went 0-3 in pool play. The Crusaders finished the year with a 34-14 overall record. 

Madonna scored nearly five runs per game last season and returns its top seven hitters. Jackie Barley hit .394 with six home runs and a team-high 43 RBIs, earning WHAC player of the year honors. Arielle Cox hit .358 with 46 runs scored and earned first team all-conference honors. Erin Mayes and Caitlyn Keuvelaar also earned all-league honors and hit .350 and .304 last year. 

The Crusaders pitching staff will once again be led by Angela Pavilanis who earned first team all-WHAC honors after posting a 17-3 record with a 1.20 ERA. Northwestern is 1-2 all-time against Madonna and have not played the Crusaders since 2002. 

  Great Falls...The Argos are one of two schools in the Frontier Conference to play softball, along with Dickinson State. They are 3-3 this season, losing two games to College of Idaho and splitting with Eastern Oregon. They also swept Northwest Nazarene. 

Joey Egan returns for her second season as the Argos head coach and returns 10 positional players and two pitchers off a 2012 team that finished with a 9-27 record. 

UGF is averaging four runs per game and hitting .285 this season, led by returner Maureen Garcia with a .600 average. Kelli O'Brien is hitting .471 with a team-high five RBIs and Alex Lowry is hitting .389 with a home run.

Newcomer Keeley Van Blaricom leads the pitching staff with a 2-1 record and 2.10 ERA. Garcia sports a 1-1 record and a 4.20 ERA. Northwestern is 0-1 all-time against the Argos. 

  Calumet College...The Crimson Wave are making their season debut at the Tucson Invite. A member of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, Calumet finished tied for third last year with a 13-5 league record, 28-25 overall. Stephanie Zimmy begins her second season as the head coach. 

Lauren Johnson, a first team all-conference selection, returns as the leading hitter after batting .376 with 45 runs scored and 15 RBIs. Jessica Pabey, another first team all-conference pick, hit .371 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs. The Crimson Wave returns 3/4 of its pitching staff, led by Alex Latronica (16-7, 2.80 ERA) and Abigail Nelson (7-14, 3.67 ERA). Northwestern is 3-2 all-time against Calumet, including a 2-1 win last year. 

  Robert Morris...Also a member of the CCAC, Robert Morris is making its 2013 season debut at the Tucson Invite. The Eagles finished tied with Calumet for third place in the CCAC with a 13-5 record, 35-21 overall in 2012. They lost five seniors, including two that earned first team all-conference honors. 

Megan Smith returns as the head coach and welcomes back Madlyn Joyce,  second team all-CCAC player, who hit .380 with a team-high 45 RBIs. Andrea Falco returns after hitting .319 with 46 runs scored, earning second team all-league honors. Northwestern is 1-4 all-time against the Eagles, losing 6-4 last season in Tucson. 

   Olivet Nazarene...The Tigers are the third and final member of the CCAC that the Red Raiders will face in Tucson. ONU, ranked 12th in the preseason poll, will be making its season debut in Arizona and returns nine players off a 2012 team that won both the conference regular and postseason titles for the third straight year. They qualified for the national championship but went 1-2 in pool play to end the year with a 54-9 record, ranked ninth in the final poll. 

Ritchie Richardson returns for his 18th season as head coach and is closing in on 800 career wins, averaging 46 per year during his tenure. He has guided the Tigers to 10 CCAC regular season titles, 11 postseason championships and eight trips to the NAIA national tournament. 

Hannah Gardner returns after earning second team All-American honors, hitting .429 with a school-record 18 home runs and 80 RBIs. Erika Tatum also earned All-American honors and hit .370 with 10 home runs and 69 RBIs. Cheryl Sendzik returns and hit .344 with 41 runs scored. ONU must replace two pitchers who graduated and accounted for 40 of the team's 56 wins in 2012. Caitlin Santefort went 7-2 with a 1.26 ERA and Lindsay Stotler posted a 7-1 record and 2.74 ERA and are the top returning pitchers. Northwestern is 0-3 all-time against ONU. 

  Aquinas...The Saints are making their 2013 season debut in Tucson and play in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC). They finished third in the conference with a 7-6-1 record and lost to Madonna in the conference championship game to end the year 30-22-1. Seven players return off last year's squad.

Crystal Laska begins her sixth season as the head coach and eighth overall season as a coach within the program.

Renae Tubergen returns in the infield after earning all-conference honors with a .355 batting average, hitting three home runs and ranking second on the team with 33 RBIs. Lindsey Stewart hit .311 with 20 runs scored and returns as the teams' leadoff hitter. Carlie Giarmo and Rebecca Shineldecker return as the top two pitchers for the Saints. Giarmo earned all-conference honors last year and went 15-8 with a 3.38 ERA. Shineldecker posted an 11-3 record with a 2.59 ERA in 2012. Northwestern is 0-3 all-time against Aquinas.

  Siena Heights...Also a member of the WHAC and nicknamed the Saints, Siena Heights will be making its 2013 season debut in Arizona. They finished seventh with a 5-8-1 league record, 27-28-1 overall in 2012. 14 players and five of their six pitchers return off last year's squad. 

Laura Klutsaritis returns for her sixth season as the Saints' head coach. Anna Alcorta earned first team all-league honors and is the top returning hitter, batting .394 with 10 home runs and 44 RBIs in 2012. Tearra Donovan batted .373 with five home runs and 20 runs scored, also earning all-conference honors. NAIA All-American Katie O'hotzke hit .346 with three home runs and 36 RBIs while posting an 11-15 record and 2.57 ERA on the mound. Morgan Warfield also returns on the mound after posting a 5-7 record and 3.97 ERA. Northwestern is 0-1 all-time against Siena Heights, last playing the Saints in 2003. 

   Peru State...The Bobcats are making their 2013 season debut and play in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. Mark Mathews begins his 20th season as the PSU head coach and ranks 25th in career wins (NAIA), owning 500 as he starts the 2013 season. He returns 12 players and three of his team's top pitchers off a 2012 team that finished fifth in the HAAC at 10-8, 30-25 overall. 

Emily Maresh is the top returning hitter and earned first team all-league honors with a .336 batting average. The catcher totaled eight home runs and 31 RBIs. Devon Massengale hit .326 in limited plate appearances and led the pitching staff with a 12-8 record and 2.63 ERA. She earned honorable mention all-league honors. Kristen Bodyk earned first team all-HAAC honors after hitting .293 with five home runs and 32 RBIs. Northwestern is 4-6 all-time against the Bobcats. 

  Viterbo...Making its season debut in Arizona as well, the V-Hawks were picked fifth in the Midwest Collegiate Conference preseason coaches' poll. Andrea Tsilis begins her fifth season as head coach and returns 18 players off a 2012 team that finished seventh in the MCC at 10-14, 13-26 overall. 

Maddy Podmolik hit .322 with seven home runs and 12 RBIs while earning first team all-MCC honors last year. Sami Weaver also returns and hit .280 with four home runs and 13 RBIs. Allison Vanhavermaet earned honorable mention all-MCC honors in 2012 and is the top returning pitcher, posting an 8-16 record with a 3.58 ERA. Northwestern is 4-0 all-time against the V-Hawks. 

Northwestern News and Notes...The Red Raiders are off to a 2-4 start to the 2013 season, losing games to Mount Mercy (2), Oklahoma Baptist and #6 Central Baptist but earning wins over MidAmerica Christian and #23 Bethany. They have not played since Feb. 16. 

The Red Raiders are coming off a 2012 season in which they won the GPAC regular season title with an impressive 16-2 league mark. They went 1-2 at postseason conference tournament, losing 1-0 to Midland in an elimination game to end the season at 33-13. Northwestern earned votes in the final four NAIA coaches' polls, marking the first time since 2003 that the team appeared in the national ranking.

Chris Nachtigall returns for his second year as the Red Raider head coach, earning GPAC coach of the year honors in 2012. He returns eight players and his three top pitchers off last year's squad. Northwestern was picked second in the GPAC preseason coaches' poll, behind 2012 postseason champion Morningside.

Northwestern is hitting .240 as as team, scoring nearly three runs per game. They are led by freshman Clarissa Ipema, hitting .500 (8-for-16) with a team-best four runs scored. She is 5-for-7 in stolen bases. Another freshman, Laura Hurley, is hitting .400 with a team-high four RBIs. Alex Price is hitting .333 (6-for-18) with two RBIs and is a career.317 hitter for NWC. Jillian Kleinhesselink leads the team with seven stolen bases and is batting .313. 

Defensively, Northwestern is giving up over six runs per game and teams are hitting .250 against the Red Raiders. Katie VandeVoort, the GPAC pitcher of the year last season, is 2-1 with a 1.71 earned run average, striking out nine in in 21 innings pitched. Keely Bracelin, a first team all-GPAC pick in 2012, is 0-3 but has 15 strikeouts in 14 innings. 

Up Next...Northwestern is scheduled to host Buena Vista on March 14 in a non-conference double header at 5/7:00pm.