Rain washes out Spirit tourney

By Carl Ackerman

Mother Nature was the only winner in the Easter weekend Spirit of St. Louis Invitational Softball Tournament.

NIU was scheduled to play six teams in the three-day tournament, but because of the rain, all of the games were cancelled. The Huskies remain at 11-16-2.

NIU will next take the field Wednesday in a 3 p.m. home doubleheader against the arch-rival Illinois State Redbirds.

Although it’s too late for the Huskies to equal its 38-7 stellar performance of the 1989 season, they have continued to receive mention in both the NCAA and North Star Conference’s first statistical rankings of the season.

Three NIU sluggers were ranked among the nation’s top 36 hitters in the April 11 NCAA statistical report. The Huskies are led by junior first baseman Lisa Gilfoy, who has a .413 batting average and a No. 23 ranking in the NCAA. Outfielder Jeanne Richeal is close behind with a .407 average and a No. 26 ranking in the NCAA. Catcher Julie Sexton is No. 36 with a .392 average.

Gilfoy and Sexton have nine doubles each which places them at No. 7 in the NCAA doubles category.

Five NIU players are ranked in the North Star Conference batting average statistics led by number one and two Gilfoy and Richeal. Sexton places sixth among the league hitters, Heidi Hutchison is at No. 13 with a .348 average and Ree Zenner’s .319 average places her at No. 17 in the NSC Top-20.

NIU is the two-time defending league champion, but the Huskies are presently ranked fifth in the NSC standings. University of Illinois-Chicago leads the conference with a 16-2 record. Akron is on deck with a 16-6 ledger. DePaul (15-10) is at the No. 3 spot, and Wright State is one ahead of the Huskies with an 8-9 mark.