Missouri State Bears (8-17, 3-3 MVC) at #15 Oklahoma State Cowgirls (29-7, 2-0 Big 12)
Friday, March 30 @ 5 p.m.Cowgirl Stadium (750)Stillwater, Okla.
Live Stats: MissouriStateBears.comLive Audio and Video: OkState.com
Series History: OSU leads 19-5Last Meeting: OSU won both meetings in 2009
Current Streak: OSU has won four straight vs. MSU dating back to 2007
After turning in their most successful stretch of the 2010 season last week, the Missouri State Bears continue an eight-game road swing with a single game Tuesday (March 30) evening against the Oklahoma State Cowgirls in Stillwater, before heading north for a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series with the Creighton Bluejays.
With their doubleheader sweep of Evansville on Saturday, the Bears closed out a week that saw them win three of their four MVC games. Oklahoma State got its Big 12 season underway with a two-game sweep of Baylor, while Creighton dropped both of its conference contests against Southern Illinois over the weekend.
Live stats for each of this week's games will be available at the official home of Bears Softball on the Web, www.MissouriStateBears.com. Additionally, live audio and streaming video for Tuesday's game at OSU will be available through Oklahoma State's official athletics Web site, www.OkState.com (subscription required).
-The Bears are batting .312 in MVC play, good for fourth in the conference
-After starting the season 0-3, senior Lauren Supak has been the Bears' top pitcher in conference play, winning three of her four decisions while posting a 2.27 ERA and holding the opposition to a .225 batting average over six appearances
-Supak's three-hit shutout of Wichita State (3/25) was her third blanking of the Shockers in as many career starts
-Junior outfielder Tyler Porter saw her six-game hit streak come to an end Saturday at Evansville; Porter has either scored a run or recorded a hit in nine of her last 10 games
-Junior infielder Jenna Schwark has recorded a hit in 12 of the Bears' last 16 games, batting .354 (17-for-48) over that same stretch; Schwark has at least one hit in 19 of MSU's 25 contests this season
-Freshman catcher Madison Hargrove has thrown out an MVC-best nine baserunners attempting to steal on the year and enters Tuesday's game on a six-game hit streak
-The Bears are 0-12 in 2010 when scoring two runs or less
-Junior infielder Christa Gammon scored five times in MSU's 14-10 win over Evansville Saturday and went 7-for-8 over the first two games of the series with the Purple Aces; Gammon ranks 10th in the MVC with a .342 overall batting average
-Seven of MSU's 16 losses on the season have been one-run setbacks
-Freshman infielder Caitlin Chapin has a team-best five multi-RBI games, including one of three 4-RBI games turned in by a Bear this season; Chapin has been the Bears' leading hitter in MVC play, going 8-for-13 (.615) with a team-high seven RBIs
-Missouri State is 4-14 when comitting and error and 1-8 when the opposition plays error-free ball
-Freshman infielder Kirstin Cutter has recorded a hit in six of her last seven games, going 8-for-17 (.471) with four runs scored
Follow the Bears
Live stats for all four Bears softball games this week will be available on the Missouri State Athletics official web site, www.missouristatebears.com.
Additionally, select MSU softball games will be broadcast live via streaming video on Bears Live, MSU's premium broadband video destination for exclusive live and on-demand streaming content. The subscription-based service will include video and audio courtesy of Meyer Communications for six regular-season MSU softball games in 2010.
Both Oklahoma State and Creighton have dominated their respective series with MSU entering the 2010 season. The Cowgirls have won 19 of the previous 24 contests the two teams have played, while the Bluejays hold a 44-23 all-time edge vs. the Bears.
Scouting the Opposition
Oklahoma State is 29-7 and ranked 15th in this week's USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll, thanks in large part to a pitching staff that has posted a combined 1.91 earned run average. Senior Anna Whiddon leads the team with a 15-3 record, 2.03 ERA, 118 strikeouts and a Big 12-high four saves. Freshman Kat Espinosa has also been solid, going 11-3 on the season with a 1.53 ERA. The Cowgirls' offense has also been strong, batting .303 as a team. Junior Mariah Gearhart has a team-high .421 batting average and 36 runs scored, while sophomore Julie Ward is slugging .735 and has a Big 12-leading 17 doubles, seven home runs and 43 runs batted in.
The three-time reigning Valley champion Creighton Bluejays have gotten off to a 14-13 start overall and enter this weekend's series 2-2 in MVC play. The Jay's possess a pair of dangerous weapons in three-time Valley Pitcher of the Year Tara Oltman and the 2009 MVC Player of the Year Renae Sinkler. Oltman is the conference's all-time leader in both wins and complete games and comes into the series 12-6 with a 1.50 ERA overall. Sinkler appears to be well on her way to another MVP honor in 2010, entering Friday's action with a .394 average and league highs of 13 homers and 31 RBIs. The senior first-baseman also leads the circuit in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored and total bases.
Shaking off the Rust
After slumbering through the first month of the season batting just .230 as a team, Missouri State has displayed some signs of life at the plate over the last two weeks. Over a nine-game stretch from March 7-18, the Bears batted .316 as a team while outscoring the opposition 47-41. The Bears averaged over five runs and eight hits per game over the same period, following a stretch of 10 games to open the season in which MSU was shut-out four times and averaged just over two runs per contest. This past week, MSU was even better, hitting .342 with five homers as a team to outscore its four opponents 25-17.
Gammon on the Go
Junior infielder Christa Gammon was red-hot at the plate last week, particularly during the Bears' weekend series at Evansville. She reached base in eight of nine at-bats, going 7-for-8 over MSU's first two games with the Purple Aces. The Belleville, Ill., product had three hits in a 5-4 loss on Friday before turning in a career-best 4-for-4 effort that included three runs driven-in, two doubles and a pair of steals in game one of a doubleheader Saturday. Gammon reached base and scored in each of her five plate appearances in the 14-10 MSU win to register the highest single-game run total for a Bear since at least the 1997 season when the school began logging individual game highs.
Missouri State's freshman quartet of Caitlin Chapin, Kirstin Cutter, Lauren Eisenreich and Madison Hargrove combined to go 19-of-41 (.463) in MSU's four games last week. The group was especially effective in Saturday's doubleheader sweep of Evansville, going 7-for-14 with four runs driven-in in a 14-10, game-one win and 7-for-13 (.538) in a 6-2 victory in the nightcap.
Supak Shocks the Shocks
With a 1-0 win at Wichita State last Wednesday, senior righty Lauren Supak continued a stretch of dominance vs. the Shockers. Supak has turned in complete-game shutouts in each of her three career outings against WSU. She blanked the Shockers, 5-0 on March 26, 2009, in Wichita after giving up only six hits, and duplicated the feat on April 15 of last season, registering a 4-0, seven-hitter at Killian Stadium. In all, the Colorado Springs native has allowed just 16 hits while fanning eight over her 21.0 straight shutout innings vs. WSU.
With their 12-4 win over IUPUI on March 17, the Bears improved to 27-9 in home openers since 1975, including a 15-7 mark under head coach Holly Hesse. After dropping a 3-0 decision to SIU March 19, however, Missouri State fell to 16-11 in conference openers. The Bears have lost or split each of their last four Valley-opening series after SIU claimed both ends of the doubleheader.
The Bears turned in their most-productive two-game stretch ever March 17, scoring 29 runs and pounding six homers in a doubleheader sweep of IUPUI. In that two-game period alone, MSU more than doubled its season home run total and upped its team batting average from .240 to .276. MSU's 17 runs scored in game two represented its highest single-game total since February 2007, when it defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff by a 20-4 score.
Nice Like Weiss
Bubba Weiss posted a career day in the Bears' doubleheader sweep of IUPUI (3/17), leading the Missouri State attack with six hits and five RBIs on the afternoon. The senior third-baseman went 4-for-4 with a key first-inning, two-run single and a home run in game one, before tallying two more hits and a pair of RBIs in the nightcap.
One Bear who did get a running start to the 2010 campaign was junior infielder Jenna Schwark, who stretched her hitting streak to seven games before going hitless against Sam Houston State (Feb. 20).Schwark just missed equaling her career-long streak of eight (2/20/09 through 3/7/09), which started at last year's Sleep Inn Classic.
Another junior infielder, Christa Gammon, saw her career-best five-game hit streak come to an end in the Bears' 4-3 loss to Kansas (March 14). The junior infielder batted .467 (7-for-15) during the streak, which included a pair of multi-hit games and dated back to the Bears' March 7 loss to Saint Louis. Over a nine-game stretch from March 7-18, Gammon was the Bears' most-consistent hitter, batting .444 with a team-high 12 hits, three steals and eight runs scored.
Beware of the Mad Dog
Despite seeing her six-game hit streak come to an end vs. Rutgers (3/18), freshman catcher Madison Hargrove continues to make her presence felt both at the plate and behind it. She went 1-for-3, driving in the Bears' lone run in a 3-1 setback at SIUE (March 9), before going 4-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored in three games at the Kansas Invitational (March 13-14). Hargrove's fifth-inning single plated what would prove to be the deciding run in an 8-7 victory over the host Jayhawks (March 14). The Shawnee, Kan., product then registered the first mulit-hit game of her career in the nightcap, going 2-for-2 with a walk and a run scored in a 4-3 MSU loss.
Hargrove has batted .417 (15-for-36) over the Bears' last 14 games, stringing together another six-game streak in which she has gone 8-for-19 (.421). Additionally, she has been one of the toughest catchers in the Valley to run on, nailing a league-high nine would-be base-stealers on the season.
One and Done
The Bears posted their first victory in a one-run contest this season with an 8-7 win at Kansas on March 14. After dropping a 5-4 decision to Evansville on Friday, MSU's record in one-run affairs fell to 2-7. Over the past two seasons, the Bears have played 25 one-run games, going just 9-16 in those outings.
At Home on the Range
Despite entering the Kansas Invitational with an all-time mark of just 17-70 against KU, the Bears posted their second straight victory over the Jayhawks with an 8-7 win in game one of the two clubs' March 14 doubleheader. The Bears also posted a breakthrough offensive showing at Arrocha Ballpark for the second consecutive year. Last March, MSU pounded KU with 14-hit barrage in a 13-8 victory for its top hit and run totals of the year.
All-Tourney Honors for Knehans
Junior Ashley Knehans earned all-tourney honors at the North Texas Sleep Inn Classic (Feb. 19-20) after batting .500 with her first home run of the season and three runs scored in the Bears' four contests.
Off and Running?
The Bears 2-10 start represented their worst start to a season on record through 12 games. Missouri State dropped its first seven games before topping SEMO (March 6) to end a 12-game losing streak that surpassed the previous school-record dry spell of 10 games, which occurred during the 1989 season. In each of the Bears' two previous winless starts of five games or more under Holly Hesse, they have rebounded to post a winning season in each instance. In 2000, the Bears bounced back to finish 30-28, then came back from an 0-5 start in 2003 to go 29-25 overall.
MVC Preseason Poll
The Missouri State softball team was picked to finish seventh in the 2010 Missouri Valley Conference coaches' preseason poll. Three-time defending regular-season champion Creighton was the overwhelming favorite among coaches, gathering eight first-place votes and 97 points total. Southern Illinois garnered 85 total points to place second, followed by UNI (77) and Drake (71), which received one first-place vote. Illinois State (66) was picked fifth, while the Bears received 36 points, which was 11 points shy of Wichita State in the sixth spot. Bradley (33), Indiana State (21) and Evansville (17) rounded out the bottom third of the poll.
Christa Gammon saw her career-best five-game hit streak come to an end in Sunday’s 4-3 loss to Kansas. The junior infielder batted .467 (7-for-15) during the streak, which included a pair of multi-hit games and dated back to the Bears’ March 7 loss to Saint Louis. Over the last nine games, Gammon has been one of the Bears’ most-consistent hitters, batting .379 with a team-high 11 hits, three steals and seven runs scored.
Madison Hargrove enters the weekend on a roll for the Bears after recording a hit in all four games last week and two of MSU’s four midweek games vs. IUPUI and Rutgers this week. She went 1-for-3, driving in the Bears’ lone run in a 3-1 setback at SIUE (March 9), before going 4-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored at the Kansas Invitational over the weekend. Hargrove’s fifth-inning single plated what would prove to be the deciding run in an 8-7 victory over the host Jayhawks in Sunday’s first game. The Shawnee, Kan., product then registered the first mulit-hit game of her career in the nightcap, going 2-for-2 with a walk and a run scored in a 4-3 MSU loss. Hargrove has batted .412 (7-for-17) over the Bears’ last nine games.
One and Done
The Bears posted their first victory in a one-run contest this season with Sunday’s 8-7 win at Kansas. After dropping the second game of the day to the Jayhawks, MSU’s record in one-run affairs fell to 1-6. Over the past two seasons, the Bears have played 24 one-run games, going just 9-15 in those outings.
At Home on the Range
Despite entering last weekend’s Kansas Invitational with an all-time mark of just 17-70 against KU, the Bears posted their second straight victory over the Jayhawks with Sunday’s 8-7 win in game one of the two clubs’ doubleheader. The Bears also posted a season-best offensive showing at Arrocha Ballpark for the second consecutive year. Last March, MSU pounded KU with 14-hit barrage in a 13-8 victory for its top hit and run totals of the year, and Sunday’s eight-run outburst represented a 2010 season high for the Bears as well.
All-Tourney Honors for Knehans
Junior Ashley Knehans earned all-tourney honors at the North Texas Sleep Inn Classic (Feb. 19-20) after batting .500 with her first home run of the season and three runs scored in the Bears’ four contests.
The Bears kick off their second season at Killian Softball Stadium this week hoping their new park brings a few more victories than it did a year ago. MSU’s 5-11 mark at Killian last season represented its worst home mark since the 2001 season, when the Bears won just three of 17 home dates. Conversely, the Bears’ 8-10 road mark and 6-4 record in neutral-field contests last year were its best since the 2006 squad went 12-9 in true road games and 23-13 overall away from home.
Despite stopping a seven-game home losing streak with a pair of wins the week of April 14-20 and defeating league-leading Creighton on the final home weekend of the season, the Bears’ offense never really got untracked at home. MSU batted .233 as a team and hit just six of its 18 home runs on the season at home. Bears pitchers found their new park to be even more inhospitable, having registered a 3.35 earned run average in 16 games at Killian. However, MSU junior pitcher Lauren Supak experienced few troubles in her new park, as the right-hander posted a 1.95 ERA in 11 home appearances. The Colorado Springs product saw her streak of 17.1 straight scoreless innings at home end when Creighton scored in the top of the first inning on April 25.
Watch the Leather, Man
The 2009 season saw the Bears post impressive defensive numbers once again, as MSU finished among the top 50 teams nationally in fielding percentage for the fourth consecutive year. The Bears were the 43rd-best Division I fielding team overall, posting a .968 team fielding percentage, their fourth-highest season mark in 27 years as a Division I program.