Softball Hits Road for Three-Games Series at Drake
Stevie Pierce's two-run homer sparked MSU to an MVC Tournament title in the last meeting with Drake.
Stevie Pierce's two-run homer sparked MSU to an MVC Tournament title in the last meeting with Drake.

March 29, 2012

Drake Series NotesGet Acrobat Reader

The Missouri State softball team (14-11, 3-3) will face Drake (13-15, 6-0) for the first time since knocking off the Bulldogs in last year's MVC Tournament Championship game. Drake is 3-0 at home this season and 6-0 in the Valley, but the last game that MSU played against the Bulldogs in Des Moines, Iowa, saw a 6-0 Bears' win in 2010.

By virtue of the Bears' MVC Tournament win over the Bulldogs, Missouri State pulled ahead in the all-time series 40-39-1. Drake has closed the gap in recent years having taken 2-of-3 from the Bears in each of the last two seasons.

The Bears are coming off a split against Kansas (23-7) on Tuesday. Missouri State held an early lead in game one, but a four-run sixth inning by KU gave the Jayhawks game one, 4-2. After falling behind in the top of the first in game two, the Bears rallied with runs in the first, fourth and fifth for a 5-4 win.

- Lucky 13: Natalie Rose entered the week 13th in the nation in fewest walks allowed per game (1.02). She then went out and did not allow a walk in either appearance against Kansas, giving her 13 outings this season without issuing a free pass. Oh, and she wears jersey #13!

- Senior hurler Natalie Rose moved into third place on the all-time MSU strikeout list with her first inning strikeout of UE's Amy Gaertner on March 24. On Tuesday, she fired her 50th career complete game, tied for fifth all-time in school history.

- Junior Heather Duckworth enters the weekend with a five-game hitting streak, the longest active streak on the team.

- First baseman Stevie Pierce has drawn a walk in four of the last five games. Her 12 bases on balls this season is tied for second on the team.

- Junior Caitlin Chapin doubled her home run output for the season with a home run in each game of the doubleheader sweep at Evansville on Saturday.

- The Bears last meeting with Drake came in the MVC Tournament title game, a 7-4 MSU win.

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Live Stats: Live stats may be provided by Drake for this weekend's games. Check the softball schedule page at for a link to live stats.

Drake Bulldogs: Missouri State defeated Drake, 7-4, to earn the sixth MVC Tournament championship in Missouri State history in the last meeting with the Bulldogs. This season, Drake is off to an undefeated start at home (3-0) and in the Valley (6-0). Led offensively by Hayley Nybo's .316 batting average, Drake is only a few points (.238) above Missouri State team average of .227. In the circle, Jordan Gronewold has started 23 of DU's 28 games this season. She was named MVC Pitcher of the Week on March 19 and holds a 2.24 ERA with 116 strikeouts this season.

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. Then on March 24, she struck out Amy Gaertner of Evansville for career strikeout number 546 to take over sole possession of third on the all-time Missouri State list in the category, passing Terri Whitmarsh. Rose leads all active Valley pitchers with 559 strikeouts with Jordan Birch of Illinois State the only other MVC pitcher with more than 500 strikeouts (513).

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 613-594-2, Hesse entered the season tied for 40th on the all-time victories list among active coaches.

Eight remaining Missouri State home softball games will be broadcast on radio and/or television this season.

2012 Broadcast schedule
Date - Opponent - Media Outlet
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

The Missouri State offense has heated up since the official start of spring last week. On Thursday (March 22) at Eastern Illinois, the Bears tied a season-high with 11 hits and scored five runs in the sixth inning, the highest single inning total of the season. Then on Saturday at Evansville, Missouri State continued to sizzle with a six-run fourth inning that led to an 11 run outing, the highest run total since a 14-10 win at Evansville in 2010.

After launching the second-highest MSU single season total of eight home run in 2010, junior Caitlin Chapin has found her power stroke again in 2012. On Saturday, March 24, Chapin blasted a home run in each game of the doubleheader at Evansville to give her a team-leading four dingers this season. She is the only Bear with more than one four-bagger this year. Her 14 career homers is just two shy of fifth in school history.

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.

On March 24, Brentz scored three times in MSU's 11-2 six inning win at Evansville. The three runs scored was a career-best for the second baseman.

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 14 bases on balls this season, the fewest walks per game ratio (0.93) in the Valley and entered the week 13th in the nation in fewest walks per seven innings.

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, Illinois State and Kansas. The Bears have played Big 12 foes well, suffering tough losses to No. 13 Missouri, Iowa State and Kansas. 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 were against Big 12 opponents or 2011 NCAA Tournament participants.

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 sets out on its second five-game road swing in as many weeks with vists to Drake and UMKC.

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.



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