The Bears are riding a five-game winning streak into this weekend's Blues City Classic in Memphis, Tenn.
Feb. 20, 2014
Blues City Classic Notes | Blues City Classic Tournament Central
The Last Meeting
March 12, 2013
The Last Meeting
February 22, 2013
The Missouri State softball team (6-2) embark on its third weekend road trip to begin the season as the Bears head to Memphis, Tenn., for this weekend's Blues City Classic. The five-game weekend will feature an intriguing mixture of opponents. After the weekend begins against Morehead State, the Bears will face Alabama A&M and Appalachian State for the first time in program history. The weekend wraps up against Memphis and Lipscomb, teams the Bears faced last season.
Missouri State comes off a championship weekend at the UTA Maverick Invitational in which the Bears went 5-0. In the process, the Bears got stellar pitching performances from Chelsea Jones, Erin Struemph and Jessie Van Es, whowho combined for four complete games and two shutouts. The pitching staff combined to allow further than one hit per inning (26 hits in 34 innings) while striking out 24 and holding opponents to a .211 batting average.
Offensively, the Bears were led by this week's Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week Bethany Sullinger. She hit .625 on the weekend after taking over the clean up role in the line up. She clubbed three home runs, drove in nine runs and led the team with a 1.250 slugging percentage.
Chelsea Jones also had a stellar weekend at the plate. In Friday's opening game against host UT Arlington, Jones became just the second player since 1997 to record three doubles in a game. On the weekend, she collected five hits and had five RBI.
The Bears had 10 players record at least one multi-hit game and six of those players drove in multiple runs in a game as well. Sullinger, Madison Jones and Ali Trickey each had their first multi-hit games of their careers on Friday against UTA.
MSU enters this weekend riding a five-game winning streak. The last five-game winning for the Bears began at the Blues City Classic in 2012.
- Bethany Sullinger jumped on the opportunity to hit clean up, setting career highs in hits, runs scored and RBI while picking up her first career walk, steal and multi-home run outing.
- Sullinger was named MVC Player of the Week and leads the league with a .957 slugging percentage this season.
- Chelsea Jones and Erin Struemph pitched back-to-back complete game shutouts to wrap up the UTA Maverick Invitational. The last time that happened, Natalie Rose blanked Indiana State in both games on a DH on April 28, 2012.
- Chelsea Jones hit three doubles against UT Arlington on Friday, only the second Bear with three double in a game since 1997 (Staci Wattie, 3/24/00 vs. Maryland).
- Senior Stacia Boeckstiegel drove in runs in each of the first three games of the UTA Maverick Invitational to run her RBI streak to five games.
- Kerri Cunningham stole three bases last weekend and leads all Valley players with five steals on the year.
ACROSS THE DIAMOND
Morehead State Eagles: The Eagles enter this weekend with plenty of rest after all four games at Kennesaw State were cancelled last weekend. In the opening weekend, Morehead went 1-4 at the Plainsman Invite at Auburn. The only victory for the Eagles was a one-run defeat of Louisiana-Monroe. The Eagles hit just .182 over the five games, but three of their hits left the yard, led by senior Samantha Howard's two long balls. The Morehead pitching staff gave up 45 hits and 46 runs in 27 innings to the tune of a 9.90 ERA. The only previous meeting with Missouri State was in 1996, an 8-0 loss to the Bears.
Alabama A&M Bulldogs: The Bulldogs head to Memphis on a three-game losing streak that included a doubleheader sweep to visiting Jacksonville State in their home opener on Tuesday. Freshman Taiya McInnes has been solid for the Bulldogs leading the squad with a .484 average this season. The AAMU lineup also features plenty of speed leading the SWAC with 19 stolen bases this year. In the circle, senior Cassandra Brown leads the Bulldog staff with a 3-0 record. Friday's matchup will be the first-ever meeting between the Bulldogs and the Bears.
Appalachian State Mountaineers: Appalachian State earned its first win of the year in the only game they played at the weather-shortened Spartan Invitational in Spartanburg, SC, after a 0-6 start to the season. Junior Ashley Seering is hitting .381 through seven games and two of her eight hits have left the park. The Mountaineer pitching staff has struggled to a 7.59 ERA and have walked 34 in just 43.1 innings. Appalachian State and Missouri State have never played each other in softball until this weekend.
Memphis Tigers: The Tigers have had a turbulent start to their season. After a season-opening win, UM dropped three straight including a pair of one-run losses. Last weekend, the Tigers went 3-2 dropping games against #20 Louisiana and #4 Michigan. A respectable staff ERA of 3.50 has kept the Tigers in games, but 10 home runs given up have hurt. The offense is hitting just .221 on the year, but freshman Lindsay Crowdus is not to blame as she leads UM with a .448 average and has the team's only two triples on the year. Last season, the Bears and Tigers split a doubleheader in Memphis as MSU rallied to run rule Memphis in game two.
Lipscomb Lady Bisons: Lipscomb is off to an 8-1 start and are sitting just outside the top-25 in both national polls this week. The Lady Bisons' only loss of the season came last weekend against Missouri. Junior Paige Neely is hitting .500 through the first nine games to lead Lipscomb. Five of her 15 hits have gone for extra bases. Sophomore pitcher Tanner Sanders is 5-0 on the year and earned Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Week after back-to-back shutouts of Iowa and #14 Baylor. Last season, Lipscomb evened the all-time series with the Bears by taking a 4-2 decision at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn.
EXTENDING HER LEGACY
Head Coach Holly Hesse is second in all-time wins by an MVC coach with 652. With Saturday's 7-1 victory over South Dakota State, Hesse earned milestone win 650. She trails only current Illinois State coach Melinda Fischer (912 wins).
BEARS SOFTBALL IS ON THE AIR
Missouri State softball will be broadcast on radio and television again in 2014. Seven of the Bears home games can be heard on KBFL 1060 AM and RadioSpringfield.com. Additionally, two home games and one road game will be telecast on MediaCom. All home games can be seen online via Bears All-Access, a subscription-based service through MissouriStateBears.com.
2014 Broadcast Schedule
Wednesday, March 12 vs. SIU Edwardsville [KBFL]
Wednesday, March 26 vs. Tulsa [KBFL]
Sunday, March 30 vs. Southern Illinois [MC22]
Saturday, April 12 vs. Indiana State (DH) [KBFL]
Sunday, April 13 vs. Indiana State [MC22]
Tuesday, April 22 vs. Wichita State (DH) [KBFL]
Wednesday, April 23 at Missouri [MC22]
Saturday, April 26 vs. Illinois State (G1) [KBFL]
SWEEPING THROUGH TEXAS
The Bears went down to Texas and swept all five games at the UTA Maverick Invitational for their first five-game winning streak since early in the 2012 season. MSU defeated 2013 MAC Champion and 2014 favorite Central Michigan and took two games each from host-UT Arlington and South Dakota State.
Missouri State pitched back-to-back shutouts to claim the title in Arlington. In the last 25 innings, the only runs given up by MSU pitching was a pair solo home runs.
Sophomore first baseman Bethany Sullinger picked up MVC Player of the Week after a scorching weekend at the plate. In five games at the UTA Maverick Invitational, she hit .625 with a stellar 1.250 slugging percentage.
On Valentine's Day, Sullinger clubbed three home runs, two of which came against MAC favorite Central Michigan. She hit safely in all five games and had career bests in hits, runs scored and RBI. She also drew her first career walk and stole her first career base.
Junior Chelsea Jones became just the second Bear since 1997 to hit three doubles in the same game when she accomplished the feat against UT Arlington on Feb. 14. She drove in a run with each of those doubles.
The only other Bear to have three doubles in a game was Staci Wattie against Maryland on March 24, 2000.
TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM
Senior catcher Stacia Boeckstiegel was hit by a pitch against Central Michigan, her first HBP this season. She has now been plunked 17 times in just over two seasons and is six shy of the school record.
Through the first two weekends of the season, the Bears have clubber five home runs. Sullinger has three of the five long balls. Boeckstiegel and Sullinger hit back-to-back dingers against Central Michigan.
Redshirt sophomore Erin Duewel accounted for the Bears' only home run of opening weekend when she hit the first of her career in the sixth inning of the second game at Georgia Tech (Feb. 8).
BREAKING THE ICE
Beside Duewel's first career home run, MSU players have recorded firsts in their career already this season.
Freshman pitcher Erin Struemph picked up her first career strikeout in her first outing, ending the sixth inning with a punch out to strand two Yellow Jackets on base (Feb. 8). In game two against Georgia Tech (Feb. 8), she earned her first career victory while striking out six over four innings of work. Then in Texas, Struemph pitched her first complete game with a win over Central Michigan (Feb. 14). As an encore, she tossed her first career shutout with a 2-0 win over UTA in the championship game (Feb. 16).
Fellow freshman Madison Jones picked up her first career hit, a solid single through the right side, during game two at Georgia Tech (Feb. 8). Her first multi-hit game came in the opener of the UTA Maverick Invitational, a 3-for-3 day against the host team (Feb. 14).
Another freshman, Elena Gambill, got in on the action in Texas. In game two of the UTA Maverick Invitational, Gambill registered her first career hit, a double to the left-center field wall against Central Michigan (Feb. 14).
Senior Ciara Flau made the most of her opportunity to start at Georgia Tech (Feb. 9). She led off the fifth inning against the Yellow Jackets and laced her first career double into the right field corner.