DECORAH - The Simpson softball team begins play in the Iowa Conference Tournament on Thursday, May 5 when it faces Loras at 10 a.m.
The fourth-seeded Storm (22-16, 8-8 Iowa Conference) enter the tournament having lost eight of their last 10 games, but look to turn things around against the fifth-seeded Duhawks (16-21, 7-9). Simpson swept the regular season doubleheader in Indianola on April 9, winning game one 9-1 in five innings and taking the nightcap 4-2.
Three teams come into this weekend's action ranked in the top 10 nationally while four are ranked in the Midwest Region. Top-seeded Luther (34-4, 14-2) owns the top spot in the region and is ranked fourth in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll. Second-seeded Central (33-5, 14-2) sits at No. 2 in the region and fifth in the nation. Coe (33-7, 13-3) has the No. 3 seed and is ranked third in the region and No. 7 in the country. Simpson is ranked eighth in the Midwest Region and is the No. 4 seed. Loras and sixth-seeded Cornell (24-12, 7-9) are unranked.
Despite cooling off as of late, Simpson still owns the league's third-best offense, trailing only Luther and Central with a .330 team batting average. The Storm also have the second most home runs of any team in the tournament with 26, one shy of tying the program record for home runs set in 2010.
The Simpson offense centers around its 1-through-4 hitters, Tieryn Potratz (Fort Dodge, Iowa), Veronica Roshek (Urbandale, Iowa), Keri Sorensen (Bettendorf, Iowa) and Allie Hock (Lawrence, Kan.). Those four accounted for nearly 50 percent of the teams RBIs and hits during the regular season and will be looked upon to carry the load in the tournament.
Roshek leads the team with a .408 batting average and Potratz is tied for the league-lead with 14 home runs. Potratz's 38 RBIs are three shy of tying Simpson's single-season mark set in 2000. Sorensen is hitting .315 with 24 RBIs and Hock is hitting .359 with 23 runs driven in.
What to Watch For
The bats of Carissa Coopman (Davenport, Iowa) and Hillary Harmon (Liberty, Mo.) produced much-welcomed power to the lineup in the last 10 games of the season. Coopman hit three long balls and Harmon hit two, nicely complementing the power of Potratz. A freshman, Harmon ranked second on the team with six home runs in 2011.
In the Circle
A year after Whitney Oviatt captured the conference's Most Valuable Pitcher honor, the Storm relied on a trio of pitchers in the 2011 campaign. Leading the way is sophomore Kacee Arey (Lucas, Iowa). The right-hander started 22 of the 26 games in which she appeared, going 11-6 with a 3.25 ERA. Veteran Bryn Johnson (Laurens, Iowa) is a stalwart out of the bullpen, making 27 appearances - 24 in relief - while going 4-4 with a 3.31 ERA. Freshman Allison Barloon (Altoona, Iowa) will likely see action as well. She went 5-4 with a 3.61 ERA in 18 appearances.
Follow the Action
For brackets, links to live audio, box scores and more information on the tournament, visit the Iowa Conference website by clicking here.