Kempker Tabbed All-MVC, Bears Sixth in Preseason Poll
ST. LOUIS -- Missouri State senior outfielder Brooke Kempker has been named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s preseason all-conference softball squad, the league office announced Wednesday (Jan. 28). Head coach Holly Hesse’s Bears were picked to finish sixth in a vote of the conference’s 10 coaches.
As a junior last spring, Kempker was a second-team All-MVC choice after starting 49 of 50 games in the Bears’ outfield and hitting .279 overall. The Jefferson City, Mo., native was the Bears’ leading hitter during MVC play in 2008, posting a .327 average at the plate and a team-high .403 on-base percentage in MSU’s 24 league contests. One of only four Bears to start every conference game, Kempker recorded a hit in nine of MSU’s final 11 games of the season, including her third five-game hitting streak of the season, May 3-9.
Missouri State is coming off a 28-22 season that saw the Bears post a seventh-place regular-season finish in The Valley before catching fire at the league tournament. MSU won three games in two days to advance all the way to the championship game, but fell one victory short of its sixth conference title. Drake earned the crown and automatic NCAA Tournament bid with a 7-2 win in the deciding game.
Creighton, off a 43-17 season, an NCAA berth and a MVC regular-season championship, is the coaches’ pick to claim the 2009 MVC softball title. The Bluejays received nine-of-10 first-place votes for 97 of a possible 100 points. Illinois State is the second-place pick with 88 points with Southern Illinois (78 points) checking in at No. 3 and 2008 tournament champion Drake securing a first-place vote and the fourth position in the poll.
The Bears received 45 points from the MVC coaches, 13 behind Wichita State in the fifth spot. Evansville (42), Indiana State (33), Bradley (25) and UNI (24) round out the bottom half of the poll.
The 2009 season will be Hesse’s 21st at the helm of the Missouri State program, and she enters the spring with a 529-501-2 overall record and the MVC’s second-highest win total in conference play.
Missouri State will kick off the season Feb. 6 against Nicholls State in Shreveport, La., at the Centenary Tournament, the first of four early-season tournaments that highlight the Bears’ non-conference slate. The Bears will open their new home facility, Killian Softball Stadium, by hosting the All-Missouri Breast Cancer Tournament, March 6-8.