Presto — Preston has a magical week at Wesleyan

 
 
Updated 3/14/2011 5:17 PM

Nikki Preston enjoyed quite a week, athletically and academically.

The Illinois Wesleyan senior hit 2 free throws with 4.1 seconds left to give the Titans their only lead after trailing by as many as 23 in the first half in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III women's basketball tournament in Stevens Point, Wis.

 

The 61-60 sectional championship victory sends the Titans into the final four for the first time in school history.

Making it to the final four had been a major goal for Preston, who also played four years for former Wheeling girls basketball coach Shelly Wiegel.

Academically, Preston has hit the jackpot, too, having been accepted to veterinarian programs at three colleges.

Preston, who had 7 points in the final 1:13 against George Fox, is only 6 points shy of 1,000 for her career. She was named to the third team of the Illinois and Wisconsin Collegiate all-conference team.

Preston and the Titans (27-4) will meet defending national champion Washington University of St. Louis (24-5) in the semifinals Friday. Amherst (30-1), which was also a final four participant in 2010, will play Christopher Newport (29-3) in the other semifinal.

The third-place game will be at 4 p.m. on Saturday with the title game at 7 p.m.

In the sectional championship win against George Fox, the Titans were trailing 16-0 and missed their first 14 shots from the field before scoring for the first time with 11:41 to play in the first half.

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The Titans, who outscored George Fox by a 40-27 score in the second half, closed to within 4 points at 60-56 on a layup basket by Preston with 1:13 to go.

After a turnover, Preston tossed in a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to get IWU within 60-59. Preston shared team-scoring honors with 10 points.

Women's softball

Eastern Illinois freshman Stephanie Maday (Elk Grove) could not have gotten off to a much better collegiate start.

Fresh off a 12-strikeout performance in the Panthers' 6-0 win over Butler, Maday earned her first career Ohio Valley Conference "Pitcher of the Week" honor.

Maday tallied her first career shutout victory over the Bulldogs on Sunday as EIU went 1-1 overall at the Lipscomb Lady Bison Classic. The Panthers also dropped a tough 3-0 contest to Appalachian State in the tourney finale held in Nashville.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Besides retiring 12 Butler batters on strikes, Maday also held the Horizon League squad to a .138 batting mark via just 4 hits while maintaining her league-best season ERA of 0.00.

In addition, the defense backed up the right-handed thrower by not allowing a Butler base runner to get any farther than second base the entire game, while also stranding six total Bulldogs in the shutout.

Not only are Maday's 12 strikeouts the best single-game performance by a Panthers pitcher since Kristen Becker (2000-03) struck out 13 Cleveland State batters in early 2002, but Maday also owns the highest such mark by a pitcher during Kim Schuette's six-year tenure as head coach.

"Maday has been working so hard since she arrived on campus in the fall," said Schuette. "She has gotten stronger in the weight room, better at distance runs and works hard every day at practice, whether throwing innings, BP, or a lesson.

"She has such a good attitude about softball and this team and is really performing for us on the field," she added. "It's a well-deserved honor and I'm happy for her as her hard work has paid off."

Maday is 3-1 overall with 23 strikeouts and 7 walks. She has not thrown a wild pitch or hit a batter while holding the opposition to a combined .159 average, which also ranks as the best opponent batting average by a pitcher in the OVC.

Men's basketball

Lewis junior Chris McClellan (Wheeling) finished the season as the Flyers' No. 2 scorer, averaging 12.4 ppg.

He shot 43 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point range, making a team-high 69. His 88.9 percent free throw percentage this season was a school record.

McClellan ranked 25th overall in scoring, second in free throws and sixth for 3-point baskets in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

He currently owns the Lewis career record for free-throw percentage at 89.6, making 112 of his 125 attempts.

Hoffman Estates Pop Warner

The Hoffman Estates Athletic Association Pop Warner program is having its football cheer registration April 9. It is the only feeder program for all District 211 high schools. Due to 211 boundaries, athletes attend five high schools.

The program has developed into a feeder program for all surrounding towns as well. Pop Warner is the only program that mandates a 2.0 GPA and rewards students who also excel in the classroom.

Call the Redhawk hotline at (847) 534-6238 with further questions.

Lacrosse

Fremd junior midfielder Nathan Serviss has been named as a 2011 High School Underclassman All-American and selected to represent the Midwest region in the 2011 National Lacrosse Classic to be held July 5-8 in Germantown, Md.

The National Lacrosse Classic brings the top 500 high school underclass lacrosse players in the country to one venue, where 20 regional teams will compete to become the 2011 USA Champion and earn the chance to compete for an International Championship against Canada.

Please e-mail Sports Notes items to jleusch@dailyherald.com or FAX to (847) 427-1173.