March 21, 2012
EIU-UE Series Game Notes
The Missouri State softball team (10-8, 1-2) will head out on a five-game road trip with stops at Eastern Illinois (10-10) and Evansville (7-14, 0-3) this week. The Bears visit Charleston, Ill., for just the second time since the teams played in the Gateway Conference in 1992. The last time the Bears played at EIU, MSU defeated the Panthers 1-0 in nine innings at the Eastern Illinois Tournament on April 1, 1994.
Missouri State will be back in conference action at Evansville on Saturday. The Bears have won six-straight over the Purple Aces including Natalie Rose's no-hitter over UE on May 7, 2011 at Killian Stadium. Missouri State is 18-3 against the Purple Aces over the last seven seasons, including season sweeps in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011.
Last weekend, the Bears ended a couple of droughts. The 4-2 win over Illinois State on Saturday was the first regular season victory over the Redbirds in three seasons. MSU also ended a 16-inning scoring drought with a two-run second inning in game two of Friday's doubleheader.
- Thursday's games at Eastern Illinois mark the Bears' second visit to Charleston, Ill, since 1992 when both teams competed in the Gateway Conference.
- Missouri State pitchers Natalie Rose (9) and Chelsea Jones (10) are first and second, respectively, for the fewest walks issued by a Valley pitcher this season.
- Missouri State is 18-3 in the last 21 games against Evansville dating back to 2005.
- The Bears have employed 18 different batting orders through the first 18 games.
- Senior hurler Natalie Rose is the only Valley pitcher to average fewer than one walk per game this season (0.90).
- Freshman Rebecca McPherson had a hand in every scoring situation in the Bears' 4-2 victory over Illinois State on Saturday. She scored in the first inning on Chelsea Jones' two-RBI single. She was part of a double steal that plated the go-ahead run in the third and drove in the insurance run in the fourth.
- Kirstin Cutter and Rebecca McPherson both batted .500 and hit safely in all three games against the Redbirds in the conference-opening series.
FOLLOWING THE BEARS
Video: Evansville will be video streaming the Saturday doubleheader. For a direct link, visit the softball schedule page at MissouriStateBears.com.
Live Stats: Live stats will be provided by the home school for all games this week. Fans can follow along by clicking the Live Stats link on the softball schedule page at MissouriStateBears.com.
IN THE OTHER DUGOUT
Eastern Illinois Panthers: Eastern Illinois enters the week having played all 20 of its games away from Williams Field, the home of the Panthers. EIU hosts SIU Edwardsville in a doubleheader on Wednesday before hosting the Bears. EIU's leader in the circle is Stephanie Maday, who was named OVC Pitcher of the Week this week. She has seven of the Panthers' 10 wins and a team-leading 2.45 ERA. Offensively, freshman Bailey O'Dell is hitting .413 with 3 home runs and 10 of her 26 hits have gone for extra-bases. The last time MSU and EIU tangled, the teams split a pair of games at the Holiday Inn Select Tulsa Invitational in 2007. MSU downed the Panthers 14-6 on February 24 to even the all-time series at 15-15. But the next day, EIU got a 3-2 win over the Bears to inch ahead 16-15 all-time.
Evansville Purple Aces: After beginning the season 3-0, the Purple Aces have dropped 14 of the last 18 games including three conference matchups with UNI last weekend. The Aces have fallen on harder times against the Bears as MSU has won six straight against UE and 18 of the last 21 games between the teams. Last year, the Bears swept the Purple Aces out of Killian Stadium out-scoring Evansville 12-3. The highlight of the weekend series was Natalie Rose's first career no-hitter in the 1-0 series opening win. The Aces are led by freshman Kayla Fortner. Fortner has a league-leading .468 batting average and in second in the Valley in slugging percentage (.677) and on-base percentage (.544).
500 AND COUNTING
Senior pitcher Natalie Rose struck out Southeast Missouri State's Taylor Cowan to end the fourth inning on Sunday, March 4 for strikeout number 500 of her career. She sits fourth on the all-time Missouri State list in the category and is just 10 K's shy of Terri Whitmarsh for third. Rose leads all active Valley pitchers with 535 strikeouts with Jordan Birch of Illinois State the only other MVC pitcher with more than 400 strikeouts (493).
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 609-591-2, Hesse entered the season tied for 40th on the all-time victories list among active coaches.
MSU SOFTBALL IS ON THE AIR
Nine remaining Missouri State home softball games will be broadcast on radio and/or television this season.
2012 Broadcast schedule
Date - Opponent - Media Outlet
March 27 - Kansas (game 1 only) - KBFL-am 1060
April 6 - Bradley (DH) - KBFL-am 1060
April 7 - Bradley - MediaCom TV
April 14 - SIU (game 1 only) - KBFL-am 1060
April 18 - Wichita State (DH) - KBFL-am 1060
April 28 - Indiana St (game 1 only) - KBFL-am 1060
May 2 - Arkansas - KBFL-am 1060 & MediaCom TV
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.
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.
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 the February 26 game vs. Western Illinois. 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. Rose has allowed just nine bases on balls this season, the fewest walks per game ratio in the Valley.
The Bears began the season as road warriors with three-straight tournaments and the first 12 games being played away from Killian Stadium. Missouri State went 8-4 in the season-opening road swing. Missouri State will play 10 of the next 12 games on the road (EIU, 2; Evansville, 3; Drake, 3; UMKC, 2)
The Bears are slated to play 11 games against teams from power conferences or 2011 NCAA Tournament participants. Thus far MSU has victories over Memphis, Iowa State and Illinois State, while suffering tough losses to No. 13 Missouri and Iowa State. In all the Bears will play 11 games against feisty foes from the Big 12, SEC or a 2011 NCAA Tournament team (Memphis, 1; Missouri, 1; Iowa State, 2; Illinois State, 3; Kansas, 2; Tulsa, 1; Arkansas, 1). The first seven games at Killian Stadium will be against Big 12 opponents or 2011 NCAA Tournament participants.
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).