Softball Takes Four-Game Win Streak to Kansas City
 
Kirstin Cutter drove in both runs in MSU's 2-1 win over Miami (OH) last Saturday.
 
Kirstin Cutter drove in both runs in MSU's 2-1 win over Miami (OH) last Saturday.
 

March 1, 2012

Game Notes - Missouri Coaches vs. Cancer TournamentGet Acrobat Reader

The Missouri State softball team will take a four-game winning streak to Kansas City, Mo., this weekend after sweeping the last two days of the Blues City Classic in Memphis, Tenn., last weekend. The Bears will play the four other Division I softball programs (Saint Louis, Missouri, Southeast Missouri State, UMKC) from the state of Missouri at this weekend's annual Missouri Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament, hosted by UMKC.

The Bears got a pair of standout performances in the circle from senior Natalie Rose and freshman Chelsea Jones last weekend. Rose, who was named the MVC Pitcher of the Week and CollegeSportsMadness.com Player of the Week for the second straight week, picked up two wins and a save during the Bears winning streak. Jones was the winning pitcher in the other Bears' victories.

This weekend marks the eighth year that the Division I Missouri programs have joined forces to bring awareness to breast cancer and raise money for a cure. UMKC is hosting this year's tournament and will be raising money for the Cynthia Joy Gabel Memorial Fund and the Susan G. Komen Fund. Admission to this weekend's games in Kansas City is free and donations will be accepted at the gate.

Quick Hits
- Missouri State is 14-11 all-time in the Missouri Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament, which started in 2005.
- Senior hurler Natalie Rose has struck out 35 batters while issuing just a single walk in the first 30.1 innings of this season. She sits just eight strikeouts shy of 500 for her career. Rose was named MVC Pitcher of the Week, CollegeSportsMadness.com Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks and was a member of the Fairfield Inn and Suites Classic and Blues City Classic all-tournament teams.
- Senior Raeven Replogle, juniors Caitlin Chapin and Lauren Eisenreich and sophomore Kerri Cunningham can all reach milestones in game played this weekend. Replogle has played 146 games while Chapin (97) and Eisenreich (96) are approaching the century mark. Cunningham is one game shy of 50 career games played.

FOLLOWING THE BEARS
Video: None
Audio: None
Live Stats: UMKC will provide live stats of every game at this weekend's tournament. Fans can follow the action by clicking the live stats link on the softball schedule page at MissouriStateBears.com.

IN THE OTHER DUGOUT
Saint Louis Billikens: Missouri State had a five-game winning streak against the Billikens before back-to-back eight inning setbacks in the last two Missouri Coaches vs. Cancer Tournaments. Saint Louis has a winning record in each to the three tournaments that the Billikens have played in 2012, including a 3-2 outing at the Phyllis Rafter Memorial last weekend.

Missouri Tigers: The last time the Bears beat the Tigers was in 2006, which was the last time the teams met and Missouri was not ranked in the top 20. Missouri State will look to snap a three-game scoreless streak to the Tigers.

UMKC Kangaroos: Missouri State has a three-game winning streak against UMKC including a sweep of the `Roos at Killian Stadium last season. This weekend will mark the first matchup between the teams in Kansas City since 2006 and will be the first of three games the Bears and Kangaroos will play at UMKC this season.

Southeast Missouri State Redhawks: The Bears have defeated the Redhawks in four straight meetings including a 4-1 win at the Blues City Classic last weekend. MSU scored three or more runs in each of those victories, including 3-2 wins in the 2009 and 2010 seasons. It will be the second consecutive weekend that MSU and SEMO will meet at a neutral site

MSU SOFTBALL IS ON THE AIR
Thirteen Missouri State home softball games will be broadcast on radio and/or television this season. Beginning with the home opener, 11 home games will air on KBFL-AM 1060 while three games can be seen on MediaCom.

2012 Broadcast schedule
Date - Opponent - Media Outlet
March 10 - Iowa State (gm 1 only) - KBFL-am 1060
March 11 - Iowa State - MediaCom TV
March 17 - Illinois State (gm 1 only) - KBFL-am 1060
March 20 - Kansas (DH) - KBFL-am 1060
April 6 - Bradley (DH) - KBFL-am 1060
April 7 - Bradley - MediaCom TV
April 14 - SIU (gm 1 only) - KBFL-am 1060
April 18 - Wichita State (DH) - KBFL-am 1060
April 28 - Indiana State (gm 1 only) - KBFL-am 1060
May 2 - Arkansas - KBFL-am 1060 & MediaCom TV

600 and COUNTING
Head Coach Holly Hesse won her 600th game at the helm of the softball Bears in her 24th season at MSU in a season-opening 7-2 win against Sam Houston State (February 17). With an overall record of 605-585-2, Hesse entered the season tied for 40th on the all-time victories list among active coaches.

APPROACHING ANOTHER MILESTONE
Senior pitcher Natalie Rose is eight strikeouts shy of 500 for her career. She sits fourth on the all-time Missouri State list in the category. Rose leads all active Valley pitchers with 492 strikeouts with Jordan Birch of Illinois State the only other MVC pitcher with more than 400 strikeouts (464).

CAREER DAY 2012
Several returning Missouri State players have had career days already this season. Sophomore Ashley Brentz had her first career four-hit game on opening day (February 17) against Sam Houston State and stole her first base. It was the first four-hit performance by a Bear since another second baseman, Christa Gammon, had four hits in game one of a doubleheader against UNI on May 8, 2010. Pitcher Savannah Wiggins had a career-high five strikeouts and hit her first career home run versus SHSU.

On that Sunday (February 19), senior Raeven Replogle had a career-best three-RBI game against South Dakota State. Junior Caitlin Chapin had two stolen bases and sophomore Heather Duckworth scored two runs, both career highs.

Last weekend at the Blues City Classic in Memphis, Tenn., Brentz and Kirstin Cutter each recorded their first multi-RBI games of their careers. Both feats occurred on Saturday (February 25) as Cutter drove in both runs in the Bears' 2-1 win over Miami (OH). In the nightcap, Brentz drove in two of the four runs in MSU's 4-1 win over SEMO.

NO FREE PASSES
Pitcher Natalie Rose had her streak of consecutive innings without issuing a walk snapped at 31.2 when she issued a free pass in the fourth inning of last Sunday's game vs. Western Illinois. Rose has allowed just one base on balls this season, the fewest among Valley pitchers with more than two appearances. The last walk Rose had issued came in the second inning of the State Farm MVC Tournament Championship game versus Drake on May 14, 2011.

ROAD CREW
The Bears began the season as road warriors with three-straight tournaments and the first 19 games being played away from Killian Stadium. Following this weekend's tournament in Kansas City, Missouri State will return to Killian Stadium for a three-game series against Iowa State on March 10 and 11.

FEISTY FOES
This weekend marks the second of 12 games in which the Bears will face Big 12, SEC or 2011 NCAA Tournament teams (Memphis, 1; Missouri, 1; Iowa State, 3; Illinois State, 3; Kansas, 2; Tulsa, 1; Arkansas, 1). The Bears passes the first test with a 1-0 win over Memphis on February 26. Eight of those matchups will be the first eight games at Killian Stadium.

MVC Preseason Poll
The Bears were picked to finish fourth in the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference coaches' preseason poll. Defending regular season champion Illinois State is favored with UNI and Southern Illinois sandwiched between ISU and the Bears.

After sweeping through the MVC Tournament in 2011, the Bears will be tasked with repeating that feat in Carbondale, Ill., as SIU will host the 2012 Championship. Missouri State earned its sixth title last season, tied for the most by any school. Hesse has 45 of the Bears' 67 wins in the MVC Tournament, both totals are the best in the Valley.

Rose in Full Bloom
Right-hander Natalie Rose added another chapter to her breakthrough junior season May 7, 2011, tossing the 13th no-hitter in Missouri State history as part of a sparkling final weekend of the regular season in which she helped blank Evansville twice while giving up just one earned run on six hits over 17.0 innings to lead the Bears to a three-game sweep. Rose notched the first no-no by a Bears pitcher since 2007 to open MSU's key series with UE.

For the year, Rose ranked ninth nationally in saves (5), 12th in walks per seven innings (1.08) and 35th in strikeouts (258).

Back in the Hunt
The Bears fifth-place finish Valley standing in 2011 represented their second upper-division finish in as many years. In 28 seasons in the Gateway/MVC, Missouri State has finished fifth or better on 16 occasions-including 11 times in the last 16 seasons--and 14 times during head coach Holly Hesse's 23-year tenure.

Winning time
Missouri State has made a habit of saving some of its best performances for the Valley Tournament, having racked up more MVC Tournament victories (67) than any other league club. Illinois State (52) is a distant second in that category, and the Bears matched Creighton for the most tourney titles over the 28-year history of the event by claiming their sixth crown. Furthermore, head coach Holly Hesse moved past Illinois State's Melinda Fischer for the most tournament victories (45) with the Bears' title-game victory. Hesse's career total is higher than the number of total team wins in the championship for every Valley other club except Illinois State.

Six Flags over springfield
Behind the pitching of Natalie Rose and some timely hitting, the Bears swept through the field at the 2011 State Farm MVC Championship, becoming just the second host school to win the league's postseason tournament in the 28-year history of the event. Rose became the fifth Bear to be named tournament MVP after posting shutouts against Bradley and UNI (May 12) on the opening day of the meet and accounting for all four MSU wins while posting a 1.50 ERA. Three other Bears garnered all-tournament recognition, including seniors Ashley Knehans, who batted .417 to lead the Bears, and Tyler Porter whose six hits and five runs scored were the top marks in the tournament. Freshman third-baseman Heather Duckworth also earned all-tourney recognition after coming up with several clutch hits while playing an error-free third base in the tournament.

While pitching was the name of the game early in the tournament, the Bears' offense came alive in MSU's semifinal win over Illinois State (May 13) and their championship game victory against Drake (May 14). In the title game, MSU got an early two-run homer from sophomore Stevie Pierce, then put the game away with a four-run sixth inning. Pierce registered a near-perfect day at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a pair of walks and four RBIs to key the Bears' sixth MVC Tournament championship with a 7-4 victory.

Postseason Party
With their first Valley title since 2006 in tow, the Bears returned to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time as a Division I program, drawing the No. 3 seed in the Norman Regional (May 20-21). Matched in the opening round with the same Tulsa squad that had defeated the Bears just three weeks earlier in their first meeting of the season, Missouri State looked to continue its late-season turnaround on the big stage.

The Golden Hurricane grabbed a 5-0 advantage after two innings to seize what appeared to be a commanding lead. But the Bears chipped away, finally climbing all the way back to actually take a brief 7-6 lead on the strength of a five-run fifth inning. TU had an answer in its half of the fifth, striking for three runs to take the lead for good in an eventual 9-7 decision.

Faced with the prospect of elimination, the Bears responded against Iona to claim their first NCAA victory since 1998. MSU scored twice in its first at-bat, only to see the Gaels come back to tie it in the bottom of the sixth inning. But Kirstin Cutter's one-out, RBI-triple in the top of the seventh scored the go-ahead run, and Christa Gammon added a run-scoring hit to give pitcher Savannah Wiggins and the Bears all the margin they would need for the 4-2 victory.

But Tulsa wasted little time in dispatching the Bears in the rematch of the two clubs' tourney opener, scoring three runs three different times over the first four innings to cruise to an 11-0 victory that ended MSU's NCAA Tournament stay.

WAITING IN THE WINGS
Head coach Holly Hesse has commitments from four players to join the 2013 squad. Joining the Bears for the 2012-13 academic year are Braxton Coil (Edmond, Okla.), Mary Stephens (Sachse, Texas), Bethany Sullinger (Kansas City, Mo.) and Sarah "Jessie" Van Es (Russellville, Ark.).

Coil was a four-year starter behind the dish for head coach Rick Nordyke at Edmond North High. She batted .477 with a team record 62 RBI in her senior season en route to Conference Player of the Year and all-state accolades. A four-time all-city and all-conference selection, she advanced her team to the 6A regional championship for a third-straight season her senior campaign. As a junior, Coil hit .387 with 48 RBI. Her Oklahoma Force summer team advanced to its third-straight USA/ASA National Championship Tournament in 2011 after winning the ASA State Title each of her seasons on the team.

Stephens has started her first three years at Wylie High for head coach Heather Damron. Her junior season, she set her school's record with 19 home runs, while batting .570 and driving in 74 runs. She was named Offensive Player of the Year, 4A District MVP and first-team all-state in her third season at WHS. A DFW Player of the Week, she was among the leaders in doubles, triples, home runs and RBI in the 4A district. Stephens earned academic all-district honors her sophomore and junior years. She was named to the all-district second team as a sophomore after batting.375. As a freshman, she was named District 8-5A Newcomer of the Year after hitting .346 and adding 16 RBI.

Sullinger was the starting shortstop all four years for head coach Stuart Sullinger at Park Hill High. A first-team all-state, all-region, all-conference and all-district honoree as a senior, she set the school record for batting average, slugging percentage, RBI and triples. She also earned the school's silver slugger award for the second-straight season and was named MVP of the team. As a junior, Sullinger set the school record for home runs in leading her team to a second-place finish in districts. She was an all-region, all-conference and all-district first team selection in her junior year. In 2009, she was named to the first-team all-conference and all-district squads while guiding her squad to a second-place finish in districts. As a freshman, she was named all-district first team and all-conference second team while earning the school's golden glove award for the first time. Sullinger also plays basketball at Park Hill.

Van Es has been a standout pitcher for Pottsville High her first three seasons. As a junior, she hurled an 18 strikeout perfect game, two no-hitters and three one-hitters while averaging 13 strikeouts for the season. She was named to the all-state and all-conference teams in leading her team to the semifinals of the state tournament. She can also hit, earning the 2011 Outstanding Hitter Award and was named the top junior by the conference coaches. As a sophomore, she earned all-conference accolades after taking the most RBI's award for the second-straight season. She won the golden glove award after leading her team to the state semifinals. In 2009, she earned all-conference honors and took home the silver bat award. Van Es also plays basketball at Pottsville High.

 

 

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