Olympia High School product Laura Canopy has helped ISU to a 28-19 record. (Photo courtesy of GoRedbirds.com)
By Bryan Bloodworth
NORMAL – What does Illinois State softball coach Melinda Fischer think about her team’s chances in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, which gets underway Thursday in Omaha?
“As good as anybody,” said the veteran coach. “There’s a lot of ifs. The only thing now is that if they want to continue their season then I think the championship is the only way to get it done.”
The Redbirds begin defense the title in a 6:30 p.m. game against the winner of an earlier game between Evansville and Missouri State. ISU is the No. 3 seed with a 28-19 record.
Creighton is the top seed followed by Drake, ISU, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, Missouri State, Evansville and Wichita State.
“Certain teams have certain strengths and they’ll certainly try to use them to win ball games,” added Fischer.
The single-elimination tournament ends Saturday with a 5:07 p.m. championship game. Should the Redbirds win their first game, they would play at 2:35 Friday. All ISU games can be heard on wjbc.com.
Senior catcher Elizabeth Kay leads the Redbirds and the Valley in hitting with a .418 average. Kay has already broken Heather Stella’s school record with 166 career RBIs and trails Creighton’s Amy Baker by one for the conference all-time record.
“She’s done everything for us from getting on base, to scoring runs, to driving in runs,” said Fischer.
Other top players for the Redbirds include junior first baseman Laura Canopy and seniors Lauren Kellar, Jhavon Hamilton and Shelby Music.
Canopy, a graduate of Olympia High School, is tied for the league-lead with 44 RBIs, while hitting .362 with a career-best 10 home runs.
Bryan Bloodworth can be reached at email@example.com