Wright State Insider: Welch at her best in biggest games for Raiders

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Wright State Insider: Welch at her best in biggest games for Raiders

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Wright State junior guard Chelsea Welch looks to pass with pressure from Central Michigan’s Presley Hudson during a WNIT game last season at the Nutter Center. Contributed Photo / Bryant Billing

Chelsea Welch has a multitude of skills, but the Wright State point guard’s most impressive attribute may be that she plays her best in the biggest games.

That was the case last week when she had 29 points in a 91-81 win at Belmont, the preseason favorite in the Ohio Valley Conference, and followed that with a 25-point, 10-assist effort in an 87-71 loss at Georgia. She was efficient both nights, going a combined 21-of-29 from the field.

Those back-to-back performances propelled the senior from Fairmont High School to her second Horizon League player of the week award this season.

“She’s doing a great job of letting the game come to her, picking and choosing her spots and making sure everybody is involved. I think that’s made everything a little easier for her,” coach Katrina Merriweather said. “And, obviously, the people around her are a ‘year’ better.”

The Raiders (9-3) — who begin league play at home against Green Bay (10-1) at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Milwaukee (9-3) at 1:30 Saturday — returned all five starters from last season. And each is producing at a high level.

Welch leads the league in scoring with a 21.3 average and is second in assists at 5.2. She’s shooting 50.6 from the field and 85.7 on free throws.

Post players Symone Simmons (7.9) and Lexi Smith (7.1) are both in the top-10 in the league in rebounding. Smith is eighth in the country in offensive rebounds with five per game.

Mackenzie Taylor is first in the conference in 3-pointers with 29. And Emily Vogelpohl is sixth in assists and third in assist-turnover ratio.

Merriweather is also pleased with her bench, including a couple of freshmen who had strong games against Georgia.

“Tyler Frierson showed some really good flashes offensively. With her being 6-4, she’s just hard to score over, so she’s doing a good job defensively, too. Nia Sumpter brings so much energy. She goes in there against Georgia and gets two offensive rebounds,” she said.

“We had some really, really bright spots against a team that was bigger and more athletic than us. All the players who got in that game showed they weren’t scared, showed they could handle it. That’s made me have a lot of confidence going into Green Bay and Milwaukee.”

BASEBALL: Major League reliever and Wright State alum Joe Smith will be the keynote speaker for the 14th-annual First Pitch banquet on Saturday, Feb. 3, at Moraine Country Club.

The former Horizon League pitcher of the year is an 11-year veteran and played for the Cleveland Indians last season. He’s fifth among active pitchers in career appearances with 698. He just signed a two-year contract with the Houston Astros.

The event includes dinner and silent auction and is a fundraiser for the baseball program. General admission tickets cost $70 and tables for 10 guests can be purchased for $1,000.

For info, contact Deanna Terelle at (937) 775-4936 or at Deanna.terelle@wright.edu.

SOCCER: AJ Paterson, Dan Bent and Joel Sundell were named first-team All-Ohio by the Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association, while a pair of Raider women made the second team.

Paterson, a senior from Key Largo, Fla., scored seven goals and was the Horizon League player of the year. Bent, a junior from Kent, England, was the league defensive player of the year. And Sundell, a sophomore goal-keeper from Norrkoping, Sweden, posted six shutouts.

Seniors Sarah Colvin (Tipp City) and Niki Romero (Las Vegas) also were recognized by the OCSA. Colvin notched seven goals and seven assists, while Romero was a defensive stalwart.

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