April 22, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

Central Missouri senior pitcher Megan Leonard tied the NCAA Division II record for consecutive innings as she posted a 3-0 record for the Jennies in three starts last week.

The native of Purdy, Mo., notched consecutive three-hit shutouts against Truman and Emporia State to stretch the streak to 82.2 scoreless innings, tying the mark set by Kelley Tiesi of Shippensburg in 2004.  Leonard had not surrendered a run since March 17.  The streak was ended by Washburn leadoff batter Tish Williams, who belted a solo home run for the Lady Blues.  Leonard went on to strike out 10 batters and keep WU scoreless in the eventual 5-1 victory.

Leonard, who leads the nation with a 0.41 earned run average, was named Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division II National Pitcher of the Week and Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Pitcher of the Week for her achievement.

THE RACE IS ON:  Southwest Minnesota State turned in a perfect 8-0 record last week to remain in first place in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference race, while another race also heated up as senior Amanda Burkhart crushed five home runs.

Burkhart tied the school’s all-time home run record – a mark that teammate Amanda Tucci had solely possessed -- as she improved her career total to 28 during the week.  The native of Omaha, Neb., batted .692 with seven runs scored, 18 RBI and a 1.346 slugging percentage, and was named NSIC Co-Player of the Week for her outstanding play.  She leads the team with a .365 batting average, a school single-season record 12 home runs and 44 RBI this season.  Burkhart needs just two RBI to become the school’s season record holder.

Tucci, a senior from Oakdale, Minn., eclipsed the previous mark of 26 home runs earlier this season, and currently has seven round-trippers for the year. 

PEACHY KEEN: North Georgia captured its first-ever Peach Belt Conference Tournament title as the Saints shutout USC Aiken, 4-0, the championship game on April 19.

Sophomore pitcher Sarah Phillips earned PBC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors after posting a 4-0 record in the tournament, which included a perfect game against Georgia Southwestern.  Phillips, the league’s Pitcher of the Year, gave up just 11 hits in 26 innings pitched for the week.

The No. 2 Saints have won 20 straight games and boast a 43-3 overall mark, and will now await the announcement of the NCAA Division II Championship bracket.

GOLDEN GIRL: Kutztown senior first baseman Steph Denlinger continued on a torrid offensive pace as she sparked the Golden Bears to a 5-1 record and their third straight Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East Division title.

Denlinger, the NCAA Division II all-time leader with 76 home runs, batted .733 with four doubles, two home runs, 10 runs scored and nine RBI for the week.  She also drew 10 walks during the period as she set another Division II career mark with 152 free passes.  The previous mark of 145 was set by Humboldt State’s Taiisha Plesant in 2000.  Denlinger picked up her fourth PSAC East Division Player of the Week of the season for her stellar accomplishments.

The native of Harleysville, Pa., ranks sixth in the nation with 0.40 home runs and is 11th in Division II with a .931 slugging percentage this season.

The No. 10 Golden Bears are the top-seeded East Division team in the PSAC Tournament, and will host the first round of pool play in the double-elimination tournament.  They will play the winner of Mansfield and Edinboro April 24.