Softball Begins Road Trip with Non-Conference Test at Arkansas Tuesday
Bethany Sullinger leads the MVC with 18 two-out RBI
Bethany Sullinger leads the MVC with 18 two-out RBI

March 31, 2014

Game Notes at ArkansasGet Acrobat Reader

The Missouri State softball team (20-11) will try to carry the momentum of a series win over SIU into Tuesday's non-conference road matchup at Arkansas (23-14). The game will mark the beginning of a six-game road trip. MSU will travel to Des Moines, Iowa for the third-straight year for a three-game series at Drake on Saturday and Sunday. The Bears will then venture to Chicago for a rescheduled doubleheader against new league opponent Loyola on Monday.

Senior second baseman Ashley Brentz has shifted to the leadoff spot in the lineup and has been the hottest hitter of late. She has raised her season batting average by 50 points while hitting safely in seven of the eight games since moving into the leadoff role. On Saturday, she racked up three hits in game one against SIU including her first career game with two doubles. In the three-game series versus SIU, she hit .600 (6-10) with two walks and five runs scored. Brentz leads the Bears with 17 walks on the year, four shy of the league lead.

Senior Kerri Cunningham also had a good weekend at the plate against SIU. She hit safely in all three games and had five hits on the weekend. She also stole second in each game of the Saturday doubleheader to raise her season total to 18. That figure ties Cunningham for seventh on the all-time single season list and is the most steals in a season since 2006.

In the circle, sophomore Jessie Van Es picked up both wins in relief against the Salukis. After 0.2 innings of hitless relief in game one, she was the benficiary as Chelsea Jones put down a perfect walk-off squeeze bunt. Van Es returned to the circle in game two and allowed just two hits over the final 3.1 innings as the Bears rallied for the doubleheader sweep.

Chelsea Jones appeared in two games in the circle and did not allow a walk over the combined 5.1 innings tossed. She ranks seventh in the nation in fewest walks allowed per seven innings at 0.73.

The Bears look to erase memories of their last meeting with Arkansas. In 2012, two Razorbacks' pitchers combined to no-hit the Bears. Despite that 4-0 loss, MSU holds an 18-17 all-time series lead over Arkansas.

  - Senior Ashley Brentz hit .600 in the three games against SIU last weekend. She had her first career game with two doubles and scored five on MSU's 15 runs on the weekend.
  - Freshman Erin Struemph is leads the MVC with 90 strikeouts and is second with a 2.07 ERA. She is averaging a league-best 7.16 strikeouts per game.
  - Senior Kerri Cunningham stole her team-leading 18th base of the year vs. Southern Illinois on Saturday. It is the most steals by a player since 2006 and just four shy of the MVC leader.
  - Junior pitcher Chelsea Jones has only walked eight batters in 76.1 innings on the season and ranks seventh in the nation with just 0.73 walks allowed per seven innings.
  - Senior Heather Duckworth leads the Valley with four triples, the most triples in a season by a Bear since 2006 (Sara Cole, 6).
  - Sophomore Bethany Sullinger drove in two more runs with two outs on Saturday. She leads the Valley with 18 two-out RBI; teammate Duckworth is second with 17.

    Arkansas Razorbacks: The Razorbacks have had no problem scoring runs this season, ranking second in the country with 7.84 runs per game. Junior Devon Wallace has drawn 41 walks, tied for the most in the NCAA, and has hit a team-high nine home runs. As a team, Arkansas is hitting .333 with 44 long balls. In the circle, the Razorbacks have had seven different hurlers make appearances this season. The staff holds a 3.87 ERA. Arkansas enters Tuesday's game with a four-game losing streak in tow having suffered a three-game sweep at home to Texas A&M. In the last meeting with MSU, two UA pitchers combined to no-hit the Bears and close the all-time series to 18-17 in favor of MSU.

Head Coach Holly Hesse is second in all-time wins by an MVC coach with 666. With a 7-1 victory over South Dakota State on February 15, Hesse earned milestone win 650. She trails only current Illinois State coach Melinda Fischer (921 wins).

Missouri State softball will be broadcast on radio and television again in 2014. Five remaining Bears' home games can be heard on KBFL 1060 AM and Two home games and one road game will be telecast on MediaCom. All home games can be seen online via Bears All-Access, a subscription-based service through

Remaining 2014 Broadcast Schedule
Saturday, April 12 vs. Indiana State (DH) [KBFL]
Sunday, April 13 vs. Indiana State [MC22]
Tuesday, April 22 vs. Wichita State (DH) [KBFL]
Wednesday, April 23 at Missouri [MC22]
Saturday, April 26 vs. Illinois State (G1) [KBFL]

Freshman pitcher Erin Struemph has been a tremendous addition to the Bears' pitching staff. She has a 7-5 record and is second in the MVC with a 2.07 ERA and leads the Valley with 90 strikeouts. She has completed six of her 13 starts on the year, three of which have been shutouts, and has earned three saves.

Struemph is one of two Valley pitchers with three seven-inning shutouts on the season. She also leads the MVC in strikeouts per game (7.16), overall opponent's batting average of .225 and batting average against with two outs (.194). She is second in the league in batting average against with runners on base (.211). On the season, she has struck out at least one batter in 20 of 23 outings, including two appearances of just 0.2 innings.

Senior Kerri Cunnningham successfully stole her 18th base of the year against Southern Illinois on March 29. The speedy centerfielder is inching closer to the record books as she is now tied for the 7th-most steals in a season. Her 18 steals are also the most since Sara Cole had 21 in 2006.

Heather Duckworth hit Missouri State's 11th triple of the year at UMKC on March 19. She leads the Valley with four triples. It is the most triples hit in a season by a player since Sara Cole had six in 2006. The 11 triples as a team is a season-best since MSU hit 16 in 2006.

Missouri State has picked up five weekly honors from the MVC this season, the most since 2006. Erin Struemph has earned the league's Newcomer of the Week honor twice, exactly one month apart (February 24 and March 24). Junior Chelsea Jones has been named MVC Pitcher of the Week twice (March 3 and March 17). Bethany Sullinger was the recipient of the league Player of the Week honor on February 17 after a stellar weekend in Arlington, Texas.

The Bears went down to Texas and swept all five games at the UTA Maverick Invitational (Feb. 14-16) for their first five-game winning streak since early in the 2012 season. MSU defeated 2013 MAC Champion and 2014 favorite Central Michigan and took two games each from host UT Arlington and South Dakota State.

Missouri State pitched back-to-back shutouts to claim the title in Arlington.

The Bears' winning streak continued in Southaven, Miss. extending to eight games, the longest win streak since 2011. MSU also pitched two more shutouts, making it four shutouts over the span of five games.

Sophomore first baseman Bethany Sullinger picked up MVC Player of the Week honors (Feb. 17) after a scorching weekend at the plate. In five games at the UTA Maverick Invitational, she hit .625 with a stellar 1.250 slugging percentage.

On Valentine's Day, Sullinger clubbed three home runs, two of which came against MAC favorite Central Michigan. She hit safely in all five games and had career bests in hits, runs scored and RBI. She also drew her first career walk and stole her first career base.

Junior Chelsea Jones became just the second Bear since 1997 to hit three doubles in the same game when she accomplished the feat against UT Arlington on Feb. 14. She drove in a run with each of those doubles.

The only other Bear to have three doubles in a game was Staci Wattie against Maryland on March 24, 2000.

Missouri State topped its season total from 2013 (5) by hitting six triples at the Blues City Classic (Feb. 21-23). The Bears hit three triples against Alabama A&M (Feb. 21), the first three-triple game since April 2, 1998 versus Saint Louis. In the bottom of the third inning against the Bulldogs, Stacia Boeckstiegel and Heather Duckworth each tripled, the first time in three seasons (March 26, 2011) that two players tripled in the same inning.

Senior catcher Stacia Boeckstiegel was hit by a pitch against Central Michigan (Feb. 14), her first HBP this season. She was also hit on March 15 against Bradley and again on March 29 versus SIU. She has now been plunked 19 times in her three seasons and is four shy of tying the school record.

The Bears have clubbed 13 home runs on the year, led by Sullinger's five long balls, two shy of the MVC lead. Boeckstiegel and Sullinger hit back-to-back dingers against Central Michigan.

Redshirt sophomore Erin Duewel accounted for the Bears' only home run of opening weekend when she hit the first of her career in the sixth inning of the second game at Georgia Tech (Feb. 8).

Elena Gambill was the only Bear to go deep at the Blues City Classic. She blasted a solo shot to left in the second inning against Lipscomb (Feb. 23).

Heather Duckworth hit her first home run of the year against SEMO. The three-run blast came on her birthday (March 1) and helped her set a career high with seven total bases in the game.

Missouri State clubbed four dingers in Stillwater and added two more at Central Arkansas (March 11). Boeckstegel went yard in the final game at Oklahoma State and again at UCA becoming the second player this year to homer in back-to-back games (Sullinger, Feb. 14, at UTA and vs. Central Michigan).

Beside Duewel's first career home run, MSU players have recorded firsts in their career already this season.

Freshman pitcher Erin Struemph picked up her first career strikeout in her first outing, ending the sixth inning with a punch out to strand two Yellow Jackets on base (Feb. 8). In game two against Georgia Tech (Feb. 8), she earned her first career victory while striking out six over four innings of work. Then in Texas, Struemph pitched her first complete game with a win over Central Michigan (Feb. 14). As an encore, she tossed her first career shutout with a 3-0 win over UTA in the championship game (Feb. 16). On February 21, Struemph earned her first career save over Morehead State with 0.2 innings of hitless relief to strand an inherited runner.

Fellow freshman Madison Jones picked up her first career hit, a solid single through the right side, during game two at Georgia Tech (Feb. 8). Her first multi-hit game came in the opener of the UTA Maverick Invitational, a 3-for-3 day against the host team (Feb. 14).

Elena Gambill, got in on the action in Texas. In game two of the UTA Maverick Invitational, Gambill registered her first career hit, a double to the left-center field wall against Central Michigan (Feb. 14). Gambill upped her slugging percentage on her next hit, a home run against Liscomb (Feb. 23).

Allie Alvstad drove in her first run with an RBI groundout against Alabama A&M (Feb. 21). She recorded her first hit with an RBI single to right against Bradley (March 15).

Senior Ciara Flau made the most of her opportunity to start at Georgia Tech (Feb. 9). She led off the fifth inning against the Yellow Jackets and laced her first career double into the right field corner.



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