Softball Bears Set for Showdown with Nationally-Ranked Missouri
April 2, 2013
The Missouri State softball team (14-16, 5-3) will host No. 6/7 Missouri (20-2) for a doubleheader of action on Wednesday beginning a five-game stretch against NCAA Tournament teams from last year. The Tigers come to town as the highest-ranked opponent the Bears' have ever played in Springfield. The twin bill has also been tagged Faculty and Staff Appreciation Night giving all MSU faculty and staff free admission with a valid BearPass ID.
Freshman Mary Stephens continues her torrid pace at the plate. She leads the Bears with 35 hits and a .380 batting average, among the top-5 in the league. She also has a team-best 11 multi-hit games including four games in which she has collected three hits.
The Bears offense has been one of the main highlights this season. The team batting average of .309, paces the Valley and ranks 40th in the country. Missouri State has racked up 157 runs in the first 30 games, surpassing last season's 147 runs over the 51-game season.
Last season, the Bears fell to Missouri at the Missouri Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament in Kansas City. Despite the loss, the Bears stranded the tying runs in scoring position in a 3-1 defeat to the then-No. 13 Tigers.
- The Bears are hitting .309 as a team, the 40th best team batting average in the nation.
- Freshman Mary Stephens leads the Bears with 35 hits and a .380 batting average, both of which ranks her in the top-5 in the Valley.
- First baseman Stevie Pierce drew career walk number 78 on Saturday, tying her with Diedre Shores for third in school history.
- Freshman Braxton Coil hit her first career home run at Drake on Saturday. Two of her four hits have gone for extra bases. She also has a team-high six sac bunts.
- Junior pitcher Rachel Brisker has made the most of her recent appearances. She has two wins and two saves in five appearances with a 1.24 ERA.
FOLLOWING THE BEARS
ACROSS THE DIAMOND
600 AND COUNTING
A LEAGUE OF HER OWN
She leads all Bears with seven home runs, 29 runs batted in, 52 total bases and 15 walks. Her walk against Drake last Saturday, moved her into a tie for third all-time with 78 career free bases. Pierce has already set career highs in home runs, RBI, runs scored (18), doubles (7), stolen bases (3) and total bases. She has a team-high 10 multi-RBI games and 15 of her runs batted in have come with two outs.
Last season, Brentz and Pierce tied with 29 walks each, the fourth-best single season totals in school history.
HAVE GLOVE, WILL FIELD
MISSOURI STATE SOFTBALL IS ON THE AIR
2013 Radio Broadcast Schedule
Fellow senior Stevie Pierce has more than doubled up on Chapin by crushing seven long balls this season, a new career high for a season. Junior Stacia Boeckstiegel joined the bomb squad with her first career two-homer game at Memphis (March 12). Memphis was also kind to Heather Duckworth and Lauren Eisenreich. Eisenreich popped a grand slam to rally the Bears in game two against the Tigers. Duckworth then tacked on her second homer of the year in the first inning of game one against UMKC (March 19).
Freshman Mary Stephens got in on the party, with a birthday bash, two-run shot against Boise State (Feb. 15) and fellow frosh Bethany Sullinger hit a home run for her first career hit against Toledo (Feb. 23). Rebecca McPherson also made a big impact with her first dinger of the season, a three-run homer against UTSA (Feb. 17), snapping a season-opening slump.
In conference play, Eisenreich popped a two-run shot at Indiana State (March 23) her fifth-straight home run with at least one runner on base. In the series finale at Drake on March 30, McPherson and Braxton Coil each blasted two-run bombs. Coil's dinger was the first of her career.
BIG BANG THEORY
Pierce tops the Bears with 29 runs batted in this year, more than any MSU player in all of 2012. She drove in at least one run in seven of the first eight games of the year.
Not to be outdone, Chapin had an RBI in each of the first six games of the season. It marks her career high for consecutive games with an RBI, besting a feat she attained from March 26 through April 2, 2010 of five consecutive games with an RBI.
STEALTHY ON THE BASES
The base running has been stellar for MSU as well. Twice on opening weekend, and again at Memphis (March 12), Bears' runners eluded the tag at the plate to score on bang-bang plays.
CAREER DAY 2013
There isn't much senior Stevie Pierce hasn't accomplished to date in her career. However, in the game at Chattanooga on February 24, she set career bests with three hits and three runs scored.
Shortstop Kirstin Cutter had a career high four hits against UNI in game two of the doubleheader (March 16). All told, she had five hits on the day and reached base in eight of her nine plate appearances in the twin bill.
Junior Stacia Boeckstiegel brought her A-game against ACC opponent Georgia Tech (Feb. 9). She pelted the left side of the field with her first multi-hit game, going 3-for-3 with two singles and a double, all to the left side. She continued to come up big at the plate with her first three-RBI game at Chattanooga on Feb. 24. Then at Memphis, Boeckstiegel jacked two home runs in game one and scored twice in each game of the twin bill, both career bests.
Fellow junior Heather Duckworth drove in three runs against the Yellow Jackets. It was her third career three-RBI game as she accomplished that feat twice last season (April 3 at UMKC; April 6 vs. Bradley). Duckworth continued her impressive plate performance with a three-hit outing against Iowa State (Feb. 16) and scored three runs versus UTSA (Feb.17), both career-bests.
In the circle, sophomore pitcher Chelsea Jones fanned six Chanticleers in the season opener (Feb. 8), besting her five-strikeout performance from last season at EIU (March 22).
Ali Trickey crossed the plate twice against Kennesaw State on Friday, February 8. She had 11 runs scored in her freshman campaign, but the game at KSU was her first multi-run game.
Junior Kerri Cunningham had a break-out weekend at the UTSA Classic. She had a career-best two stolen bases against Boise State (Feb. 15). She also had her first career multi-RBI games, accomplishing the feat against Iowa State (Feb. 16) and UTSA (Feb. 17).
Rebecca McPherson's home run against UTSA (Feb. 17) not only ended a season-opening slump, but the three-run shot was a career best RBI performance. McPherson then had a career high two runs score at Memphis (March 12).
GETTING THAT FIRST HIT OUT OF THE WAY
Sophomore Ali Trickey also singled against Kennesaw State on opening day. She scored twice in that game as well, a career high.
It didn't take long for freshman Mary Stephens to get comfortable with collegiate softball. She laced a two-run single down the third base line in her first game against Coastal Carolina on Friday, February 8. She followed that up with her first two-hit performance against the Chanticleers on Saturday, February 9, including a double, her first extra-base hit. Then for Stephens' encore, she blasted her first career home run, a two-run shot, against Boise State on February 15.
Freshman Bethany Sullinger didn't take long to make an impact either. In her first career start against Toledo (Feb. 23), she laid down a perfect squeeze bunt for an RBI. In her next at-bat, she blasted a two-run home run the first of career hit.
Fellow freshman Braxton Coil became the second Bear this season to begin her career with an extra-base hit. Coil roped a double to right-center at SIU Edwardsville (March 13) for her first MSU base knock.
The Bears played three games against 2012 NCAA Tournament teams on opening weekend. Despite going 0-3, Missouri State scored 15 runs in those three games.
MSU will play two more games against teams that participated in the 2012 NCAA Tournament on the road at Arkansas (April 10) and Tulsa (May 1).
MVC PRESEASON POLL