Softball Bears to play doubleheader Wednesday
Missouri State and Missouri-Kansas City will meet in doubleheader action on Wednesday, March 7. Game one begins at 3 p.m. at the Missouri State Softball Field. The teams were scheduled to meet in last weekend's SLU Cancer Center Classic, but the game was canceled due to unfavorable playing conditions. As a result, the teams will play a doubleheader Wednesday instead of the originally scheduled single game.
The Opponents Missouri-Kansas City is 1-7 this season and has a home doubleheader with Iowa State on Tuesday afternoon. The Bears and Kangaroos were originally scheduled to meet last weekend at the SLU Cancer Center Classic, but unfavorable playing conditions Saturday caused the game to be canceled, resulting in the doubleheader Wednesday. UMKC picked up its first victory of the season over Southeast Missouri State in the tournament, defeating the Redhawks 6-0 on Sunday. The Kangaroos also dropped a one-run contest to Saint Louis, 5-4, Sunday.
Series Records Missouri State holds a 24-3 edge in the all-time series with UMKC. The Bears defeated the Kangaroos three times last season: 8-0 in six innings at the University of Arkansas Lady Back Invitational (2/26), 4-0 in the Missouri State Spring Classic (3/5), and 6-1 in a game played at Kansas City (3/23).
Coach Holly Hesse Missouri State head coach Holly Hesse (Creighton, ’82) is 488-461-2 (.514) in her 19th season at Missouri State. Last season, Hesse led the Bears to a school-record 40 wins and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Hesse’s teams have made four trips to the NCAA Tournament (1996, 1997, 1998, 2006) and have won four Missouri Valley Conference tournament championships. She also led the Bears to the Gateway Conference regular season championship in 1992 and the MVC regular season title in 1994. Last year’s second place MVC finish marked the 12th time during her tenure the Bears have finished in the top-five of the conference standings. Last season was also the sixth time the Bears have won 30 games in a season, with an average of nearly 27 wins per season since her arrival in 1989. Hesse won her 400th career game at Missouri State on March 20, 2004, in a 9-1 victory over Indiana State at the Missouri State Softball Field, and is 12 wins away from 500. She ranks 49th among active head coaches in career wins. The Missouri State Bears are playing in their 39th season and have an all-time record of 867-697-2.
Last Week Missouri State lost two hard-fought games against Oklahoma State in the Bears’ home opener last Wednesday, Feb. 28, falling 1-0 and 4-2. The Bears also split two games in the SLU Cancer Center Classic in St. Louis on Sunday, defeating Southeast Missouri State, 10-4, and losing to Saint Louis, 3-2.
Game one of the doubleheader with Oklahoma State was a pitchers duel, as the Bears’ Melissa Porche took the hard-luck 1-0 loss. Porche (5-5) allowed only four hits in seven innings, but one of the hits was a solo homer by the Cowgirls’ Kim Kaye in the fourth inning for the only run of the game. Sophomore Jessie Smith had the Bears’ lone hit of the game, an infield single in the fourth.
Oklahoma State used a strong wind blowing to left field to hit three solo homers in the first two innings of game two. Missouri State cut the Cowgirls’ lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the second, as junior catcher Lacie Ballard singled to lead off the inning, sophomore Brooke Kempker was hit by a pitch, and junior Jana Shewmaker singled up the middle to load the bases. Freshman Dusti Foster scored Ballard on a sacrifice fly to center field and Kempker scored on a groundout by freshman Lauren McGinley to make it 3-2 after the second. The Bears would get no closer, as the Cowgirls added a run in the sixth to make it 4-2. The Bears had base runners in the sixth and seventh, but could not capitalize, as OSU took a 4-2 victory. Megan Ramsey (2-3) suffered the loss on the mound, allowing four runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings.
The Bears got back in the win column in their first game Sunday in the SLU Cancer Center Classic, scoring 10 runs in the first two innings to defeat Southeast Missouri State, 10-4. Missouri State scored six runs in the first, all coming with two outs. Shewmaker laced a two-run double to score Smith, who singled, and Ballard, who walked. Porche then blasted a two-run homer to left-center field to score Shewmaker, making it 4-0. After Kempker singled, catcher Jen Carr launched another two-run homer, this time to center field, to put Missouri State ahead 6-0.
Missouri State added four more runs in the second inning, as the power showcase continued. Senior Katie Martin hit the team’s third home run of the game with an opposite field blast to extend the Bears’ lead to 7-0. After two walks and a wild pitch to score another run, Shewmaker joined the home run derby with a two-run shot to left-center field, stretching the MSU lead to 10-0. The home run was the Bears’ fourth in two innings, as Shewmaker picked up her third and fourth RBIs of the game.
Missouri State piled up 10 hits in the game, as Shewmaker, Carr, Smith and Kempker each had two-hit games for the Bears. Eight of the nine MSU starters scored a run in the game.
Porche earned the victory on the mound for the Bears, picking up her seventh complete game of the season to improve to 6-5.
The Bears took a 2-0 lead in the tournament finale against host Saint Louis. Lauren McGinley put MSU on the scoreboard with an RBI single in the second inning and Martin hit her second solo homer of the day in the third inning to give the Bears a two-run advantage. The host Billikens answered in the fifth inning, as SLU loaded the bases with two singles and a walk. Rachel Heet then cleared the bases with a three-run triple to give the Billikens a 3-2 lead.
Missouri State had opportunities to tie the game in both the sixth and seventh innings. Porche doubled with one out in the sixth, but advanced no farther. In the seventh, Martin and Smith each singled, and advanced to second and third with two outs, but Ballard grounded out to end the game.
Ramsey (2-4) took the loss on the mound, allowing three runs on six hits in 4.1 innings. Porche relieved Ramsey with the bases loaded in the fifth and allowed the triple to Heet, the only hit she allowed in 2.2 innings.
Powerful Porche Missouri State junior pitcher Melissa Porche led the country last season with seven saves and pitched 16 complete games as a starter, as she went 17-8 with a 2.17 ERA. So far this season, Porche is 6-5 with a 2.25 ERA in 71.2 innings of work, which is second most in the Missouri Valley Conference. She also currently leads the league with 77 strikeouts and is tied for second with her 16 appearances. The Buena Park, Calif., native pitched a no-hitter in the championship game of the Central Arkansas Lead-Off Tournament against host UCA, as the Bears captured the tournament title with a 6-0 victory. Porche took a perfect game into the seventh inning before walking the leadoff batter. The righthander struck out 11 in the game and 33 during the tournament as she went 3-0 and was voted to the all-tournament team. Porche picked up two wins at the Holiday Inn Select Tulsa Festival last weekend, including her third complete game shutout of the season in the Bears’ 7-0 victory over Stephen F. Austin (2/23).
New Position, Same Results Two of Missouri State’s returning all-conference selections from last season are making position changes in 2007. First Team All-MVC selection Jessie Smith has moved from right field to shortstop and Katie Martin has relocated from left field to center field. The new position has not changed the pair’s offensive production, as the two have led the Bears’ offensive attack so far this season.
Martin leads the team with 17 hits, four home runs, four doubles, two triples, 15 runs, 12 walks, and 37 total bases. She also leads the Bears with her .673 slugging percentage. Martin’s 37 total bases and 15 runs scored are most in the MVC and her 12 walks rank second. The senior from Baldwin City, Kan., was the offensive star in the Bears’ 7-0 victory over Stephen F. Austin on Friday, going 2-for-3 with a second-inning grand slam and a sixth-inning RBI double. Martin also launched a solo homer in both games of the SLU Cancer Center Classic (3/4), in a win against Southeast Missouri State and a loss to Saint Louis.
Smith is 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts to lead the team and the MVC, and she is second on the Bears’ squad behind Martin with 16 hits, 14 runs scored, three doubles, three home runs, 28 stolen bases, and eight walks. The Blue Springs, Mo., native had three hits, including a pair of two-run homers, and scored three runs in Missouri State’s 20-4 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff Feb. 11 at the Central Arkansas Lead-Off Tournament.
The duo is also tied for second on the team with 12 RBIs apiece. The two have combined to score 29 of the team’s 92 runs and have knocked in 24 of MSU’s 80 RBIs this season. At their new positions, Smith and Martin have posted .978 and .963 fielding percentages, respectively. Smith leads the team with 27 assists.
Fab Four Frosh Missouri State has four freshmen on its roster, and each has played a significant role this season. Lauren McGinley has started every game for the Bears, 16 at first base and two on the mound. The Oklahoma City, Okla., native has five hits with three RBIs and three runs scored, and is errorless in 93 fielding chances. Jodie Shead has started all but two games this season, including 15 in left field. A graduate of softball powerhouse Lafayette High in Wildwood, Mo., Shead is tied for the team lead with four doubles and three sacrifice bunts, third with 13 hits, and tied for fourth with 17 total bases. Dusti Foster has started 16 of 18 games at second base for the Bears, picking up six hits, two doubles, five runs, and eight total bases. Pitcher Megan Ramsey has started six games and appeared in 11 contests, and has a 2-4 record. The Ottawa, Kan., native has emerged as the number two starter for the Bears and has a 3.47 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 36.1 innings.
Backstop Combo The Bears will utilize two catchers throughout the season in sophomore Jen Carr and junior Lacie Ballard. So far this season, Carr has started 10 games and Ballard eight games behind the plate. A native of Lomita, Calif., Carr has no errors in 63 chances, and is tied for second on the team with eight walks. She hit her first career home run, a two-run shot, against Southeast Missouri State (3/4) in a 10-4 MSU victory. Carr has also started two games as the designated hitter. Ballard is hitting .270 with 10 hits, three doubles, a triple, and four RBIs. The St. Louis, Mo., native is third on the team with 11 runs scored. Ballard has three mult-hit games to tie for second-most on the team. She has also made five starts as the designated hitter. Behind the plate, she is 56 of 58 in fielding chances.
Shewmaker Shines Since filling in for the injured Michelle Armentrout at third base, Jana Shewmaker given the Bears an offensive spark. The junior from Buffalo, Mo., has started only 10 of the Bears’ 18 games, but already leads the team with a .370 batting average and 13 RBIs. Her .630 slugging percentage ranks second on the team and her .438 on-base percentage is third-best. She has accumulated 10 hits, two doubles, a triple, and 17 total bases this season. Making her first starts of the season at third base at the Holiday Inn Select Tulsa Festival (2/23-2/25), junior Shewmaker led the Bears with nine RBIs and a .455 batting average in the tournament. She went 3-for-4 with five RBIs in the Bears’ 14-6 victory over Eastern Illinois (2/24). The St. Louis Community College transfer came to the plate three times in the game with the bases loaded and delivered on each occasion, hitting a three-run triple in the second inning and two run-scoring singles in the fourth and fifth. In Missouri State’s 6-5 eight-inning loss to Tulsa, Shewmaker added a two-run double and RBI groundout.The third baseman also led the team with 11 assists in the tournament, and made no errors in 14 fielding chances, to earn all-tournament honors.
Last weekend, Shewmaker led the Bears with four RBIs in their 10-4 victory over Southeast Missouri State (3/4). The third baseman hit a two-run double in the first inning and added her first homer as a Bear, a two-run shot, in the second.
Bean Ball Brooke Kempker leads the Valley in a category she’d rather not-- hit by pitch. The outfielder from Jefferson City, Mo., has been hit six times this season in 33 plate appearances, which averages nearly once every five times she steps to the plate. Kempker, who has started nine games and played in 13, leads the Bears with a .485 on-base percentage and is third on the team with a .320 batting average.
One-run Setbacks Missouri State has not had much luck in one-run games this season, as the Bears are 1-5 in games decided by one run. Last week, MSU suffered two such defeats; 1-0 to Oklahoma State (2/28) and 3-2 to Saint Louis (3/4).
Early Offense The Bears are 8-1 this season when scoring the first run of the game, and 7-0 when tallying a run in the first inning. On the contrast, MSU is 0-10 when their opponent scores first, including an 0-7 mark when the opposition scores in the first inning.
Hit or Miss The recipe for a Missouri State victory this season has been simple: outhit the opponent. When the Bears outhit their oppositions, they are 8-0. However, when opponents equal or surpass MSU’s hit total in a game, the Bears are 0-11.
MVC Preseason Poll The Missouri State softball team was picked to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason coaches poll. The Bears accumulated 57 points, finishing behind Wichita State (71 points), Southern Illinois (83 points), and preseason favorite and defending regular season champion Illinois State (86 points). Creighton was picked fifth, followed by Indiana State, Bradley, Drake, Evansville, and Northern Iowa. Senior centerfielder Katie Martin, junior pitcher Melissa Porche, and sophomore shortstop Jessie Smith were all-MVC selections a season ago. Smith was only the second freshman in school history to be named to the first team, while Martin and Porche were second-team picks. However, no Bears were selected to the 2007 MVC preseason all-conference team.
Up Next Next week, Missouri State will host North Dakota State in a doubleheader on Tuesday, March 13. The Bears will then open Missouri Valley Conference play at home with a three-game series with Creighton. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday, March 17, and a single game Sunday, March 18.