Bears to conclude homestand with MVC contests against Wichita State and Northern Iowa
 

 

 

The Missouri State softball team will conclude their nine-game home stand with a Wednesday contest with Wichita State and a weekend three-game series against Northern Iowa. The Bears got back on the winning track by taking the final two games of a three-game series with Evansville last weekend. Wichita State sits in fourth in the conference standings with a 6-5 mark, while UNI is in ninth with a 1-5 league record.

 

on the Radio Wednesday’s game against Wichita State, game one of Friday’s doubleheader with Northern Iowa and Saturday’s game with the Panthers will be broadcast on KBFL (1060 AM). The broadcast can be listened to online by going to www.radiospringfield.com.

 

The opponents Wichita State is 18-23 and 6-5 in the MVC after taking two of three from #20 Illinois State last weekend. The Shockers sit fourth in the Valley standings, as WSU won both games of a doubleheader Saturday with the Redbirds, 5-1 and 4-3, before falling to Illinois State 9-3 on Sunday. Wichita State’s doubleheader sweep Saturday broke a five-game losing streak, which followed a five-game winning streak.

 The Bears split a doubleheader with the Shockers in Wichita (3/21) earlier this season. Wichita State won game one, 5-1, as Britnee Barnett and Cynthia Verhulst hit back-to-back homers in the first inning to lead the Shockers. Margo Pruis pitched a complete game three-hitter for WSU, while Melissa Porche took the loss for the Bears, giving up four earned runs in four innings. Missouri State rebounded to win game two of the twinbill, defeating the Shockers 4-2. Porche was on the winning end of the pitching decision, as she allowed two runs in the complete game effort. The Bears used a three-run fourth inning to erase a 2-1 deficit, as Jodie Shead and Porche each delivered run-scoring singles.

Northern Iowa has had their last four games cancelled due to weather, including their Wednesday doubleheader with Bradley. The Panthers will enter the three-game series in Springfield with a 13-18 overall record with a 1-5 conference mark. UNI has lost seven of its last eight games, dropping a doubleheader to Iowa State (3/28) in their last action. The Panthers were swept by Illinois State and dropped two of three with Drake in their two conference series.

 

Series records With the split earlier in the season, Missouri State now holds a 42-37 edge in the all-time series with Wichita State. The Bears took three of four last season from the Shockers, including a 4-0 victory in the MVC Tournament championship game.

  The Bears swept Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls last season, one of five series sweeps for MSU last year. Missouri State won by scores of 7-1, 7-0, and 10-6, and the Bears hold a 33-28 advantage in the all-time series.

 

Coach Holly Hesse Missouri State head coach Holly Hesse (Creighton, ’82) is 495-470-2 (.512) in her 19th season at Missouri State. Last season, Hesse led the Bears to a school-record 40 wins and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Hesse’s teams have made four trips to the NCAA Tournament (1996, 1997, 1998, 2006) and have won four Missouri Valley Conference tournament championships. She also led the Bears to the Gateway Conference regular season championship in 1992 and the MVC regular season title in 1994. Last year’s second place MVC finish marked the 12th time during her tenure the Bears have finished in the top-five of the conference standings. Last season was also the sixth time the Bears have won 30 games in a season, with an average of nearly 27 wins per season since her arrival in 1989. Hesse won her 400th career game at Missouri State on March 20, 2004, in a 9-1 victory over Indiana State at the Missouri State Softball Field, and is currently five wins away from 500. She entered the season 49th among active head coaches in career wins. The Missouri State Bears are playing in their 39th season and have an all-time record of 874-706-2.

 

Evansville RECAP Missouri State took two of three from Evansville last weekend, splitting a doubleheader Saturday and taking the rubber match Sunday.

Evansville scored three fourth-inning runs to break a scoreless tie in the first game of the day Saturday, as the Purple Aces won 6-0. Evansville starter Ashley Hobbs allowed only one hit in the first six innings. Brooke Kempker singled in the second and Jessie Smith and Michelle Armentrout added back-to-back doubles in the seventh for the Bears’ only hits of the day. Hobbs (7-3) struck out six in the complete game shutout. MSU starter Melissa Porche gave up three runs on five hits in four innings to take the loss. Freshman Megan Ramsey allowed two earned runs on four hits in three innings of work.

Missouri State busted out of its offensive slump early in game two, led by the sophomore Kempker, as the Bears took the nightcap, 9-1, in five innings. The Bears scored two first-inning runs as Kempker doubled to right-center field to score Porche and Armentrout. Missouri State then broke the game open in the second inning, scoring five runs, again highlighted by a two-run double by Kempker.  In the third inning, Smith launched a two-run homer to conclude the MSU scoring.

 Porche was effective on the mound in her second stint of action on the day, allowing only a fifth-inning run. The Bears’ hurler struck out five batters in the game to move her season total to 143, setting a new career high. With the victory, Porche reached the 10-win mark for the second consecutive season.Kempker was the star offensively, going 2-for-3 with a career-high four RBIs. Armentrout and Martin joined Kempker with two-hit games as the Bears managed eight hits in the contest. Evansville used four pitchers, including starter Danny Murphy, who suffered the loss.

  Home runs by Martin and Smith accounted for five of the Bears’ six runs as the Bears won the rubber match of the three-game series, 6-0, on Sunday. Porche got things started offensively for Missouri State in the first inning, as she drew a one-out walk, stole second and then home on a double steal with Kempker. The Bears broke the game open with three runs in the second inning, highlighted by a three-run home run by Martin.

 Smith then hit her team-leading sixth homer and second in as many games, as she launched a two-run shot in the fourth. Armentrout and Jana Shewmaker added hits for the Bears in the contest, as Missouri State matched Evansville with five on the day. On the mound, the starter Porche was aided by two double plays following UE hits. The junior hurler gave up five hits, while striking out five, in the complete game effort to improve her record to 11-12 on the season.

 

Powerful Porche Missouri State junior pitcher Melissa Porche led the country last season with seven saves and pitched 16 complete games as a starter, as she went 17-8 with a 2.17 ERA. So far this season, Porche is tough-luck 11-12 with a 1.95 ERA in 150.2 innings of work. She currently leads the MVC with 150.2 innings pitched, and is third in the league with 148 strikeouts.

 The Buena Park, Calif., native pitched a no-hitter in the championship game of the Central Arkansas Lead-Off Tournament against host UCA, as the Bears captured the tournament title with a 6-0 victory. Porche took a perfect game into the seventh inning before walking the leadoff batter. The righthander struck out 11 in the game and 33 during the tournament as she went 3-0 and was voted to the all-tournament team. She also threw a complete game one-hitter against Central Arkansas (2/10) in the teams’ first meeting. Porche picked up two wins at the Holiday Inn Select Tulsa Festival, including her third complete game shutout of the season in the Bears’ 7-0 victory over Stephen F. Austin (2/23). In a 6-0 win over UMKC (3/7), the hurler picked up her fourth complete game shutout of the season, allowing only three hits. Porche suffered two tough-luck losses against Creighton in the opening weekend of MVC play (3/7-3/8), dropping games of 1-0 and 2-0 to the Bluejays after pitching nine-inning complete games in each contest. In both contests, the Bluejays scored in the ninth inning and the Bears could not provide Porche any run support. Despite taking the loss in both games, her ERA dropped from 2.12 to 1.82. During the weekend, Porche passed the 100-strikeout mark for the third consecutive season.

  After going 2-2 in doubleheader splits with Wichita State (3/21) and Bradley (3/25), Porche tied a season high with 13 strikeouts in game two of a doubleheader against Kansas (3/28), but again suffered the loss after the Bears were shutout. Last weekend, Porche was 2-1 as the Bears won an MVC series with Evansville. During the weekend, she set a new career high in strikeouts, passing her total of 141 from last season.

 

New position, same Results Two of Missouri State’s returning all-conference selections from last season are making position changes in 2007. First Team All-MVC selection Jessie Smith has moved from right field to shortstop and Katie Martin has relocated from left field to center field. The new positions have not changed the pair’s offensive production, as the two have led the Bears’ offensive attack so far this season.

  Martin leads the team with 32 hits, six doubles, two triples, 24 runs, 20 walks, and 57 total bases. She also leads the Bears with a .314 batting average, a .559 slugging percentage, a .426 on-base percentage, and has a team-best 11 multi-hit games. Martin’s 11 stolen bases are third-most in the Valley and her 20 base on balls are tied for third.  The senior from Baldwin City, Kan., was the offensive star in the Bears’ 7-0 victory over Stephen F. Austin (2/23), going 2-for-3 with a second-inning grand slam and a sixth-inning RBI double. Martin also launched a solo homer in both games of the SLU Cancer Center Classic (3/4), in a win against Southeast Missouri State and a loss to Saint Louis. In game two of a doubleheader against UMKC (3/7), Martin was 2-for-2 and reached base four times, stole three bases, and scored two runs.

 Smith leads the Bears with six home runs, including two-run homers in consecutive games of last weekend’s series win over Evansville. She has 12 stolen bases this season to rank second in the MVC, and is second on the Bears’ squad behind Martin with 28 hits, 20 runs scored, 50 total bases, and 14 walks. The Blue Springs, Mo., native is second on the team with a .485 slugging percentage and is third with her .272 batting average. The sophomore had three hits, including a pair of two-run homers, and scored three runs in Missouri State’s 20-4 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff Feb. 11 at the Central Arkansas Lead-Off Tournament. Smith launched a solo home run for the Bears’ only run in a 3-1 loss to North Dakota State (3/13). Smith has four multi-hit games to tie for second of the team.

  Smith and Martin are two of only three Bears to have started every game this season. The duo is tied for the team lead in RBIs, with 18, and multi-RBI games, with five. The two have made easy transitions to their new positions as Smith and Martin have posted .980 and .979 fielding percentages, respectively. Smith leads the team with 53 assists and has shown great range and a strong arm. Martin has made multiple highlight-reel plays, including a fully-extended diving catch for the final out of the Bears’ 5-1 victory over North Dakota State (3/13).

 

Fab Four frosh Missouri State has four freshmen on its roster, and each has played a significant role this season. The foursome has accounted for 103 starts through 35 games this season.

  Lauren McGinley has started every game for the Bears, 32 at first base and two on the mound. The Oklahoma City, Okla., native has 10 hits with five RBIs and three runs scored, and is errorless in 172 fielding chances. McGinley is one of only two players in the MVC with 190 or more fielding chances without an error.

 Jodie Shead has started 26 games and played in 28, including 25 starting assignments in left field. A graduate of softball powerhouse Lafayette High in Wildwood, Mo., Shead is tied for the team lead with four sacrifice bunts, tied for second with four doubles, and is tied for fourth on the squad with 18 hits. She owns the team’s fifth-best batting average at .247 and has three multi-hit games on the year. She is one of six Bears to have hit safely in five straight games, which she accomplished earlier this season.

 Dusti Foster has started all but two games this season for the Bears at second base, picking up eight hits, two doubles, seven runs, and 10 total bases. The Stroud, Okla., native has two multi-hit games, including a 2-for-3 performance with an RBI single and run scored in game two of a doubleheader against North Dakota State (3/13).

 Pitcher Megan Ramsey has started 10 games and appeared in 17 contests, and has a 4-6 record. The Ottawa, Kan., native has emerged as the number two starter for the Bears and has a 3.18 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 66 innings. Ramsey threw consecutive complete game three-hitters against UMKC and North Dakota State earlier this season. Her first collegiate shutout came against UMKC (3/7) in a 6-0 Bears win.

 

Backstop combo The Bears will utilize two catchers throughout the season with sophomore Jen Carr and junior Lacie Ballard. So far this season, Carr has started 20 games while Ballard has been the starter in 14 contests. A native of Lomita, Calif., Carr has no errors in 126 fielding chances, and is third on the team with 10 walks. She hit her first career home run, a two-run shot, against Southeast Missouri State (3/4) in a 10-4 MSU victory. Carr has also started two games as the designated hitter.

  Ballard is hitting .237 with 14 hits, three doubles, a triple, and five RBIs. The St. Louis, Mo., native is tied for third on the team with 15 runs scored. Ballard has four multi-hit games to tie for second-most on the team. She has also made six starts as the designated hitter. Behind the plate, Ballard has thrown out seven runners on the base paths.

 

Armentrout returns Junior third baseman Michelle Armentrout returned to the Bears’ lineup against UMKC (3/7) following a nine-game absence due to an injury. The Broken Arrow, Okla., native had a hit and RBI in both games against UMKC. In 25 starts this season, Armentrout has a .257 batting average with 19 hits, four doubles, a triple  a home run, and nine RBIs. Armentrout was named to the season-opening UCA Lead-Off Classic all-tournament team, as she was 8-for-15 with two doubles, a triple, a home run, and five RBIs in the five games. In the season opener against Jackson State (2/10), the junior hit a three-run triple to account for all the scoring as the Bears won 3-2.

  Armentrout bumped her average from .231 to .257 with a 4-for-9 performance during the Bears’ three-game series with Evansville last weekend, and had a hit in each game.

 

Shewmaker shines While filling in for the injured Michelle Armentrout at third base from Feb. 25 through Mar. 4, Jana Shewmaker provided the Bears with an offensive spark. The junior from Buffalo, Mo., hit .360 with nine hits, 13 RBIs, and 16 total bases in the nine games she started during this time. Making her first starts of the season at third base at the Holiday Inn Select Tulsa Festival, Shewmaker led the Bears with nine RBIs and a .455 batting average in the tournament. She went 3-for-4 with five RBIs in the Bears’ 14-6 victory over Eastern Illinois (2/24). The third baseman also led the team with 11 assists in the tournament, as she earned all-tournament honors.

 Shewmaker led the Bears with four RBIs in their 10-4 victory over Southeast Missouri State (3/4), which included a two-run double and her first homer as a Bear, a two-run shot, in the second.

  Since Armentrout’s return, Shewmaker has been primarily used as the team’s designated hitter. While starting only 19 games this season, Shewmaker is third on the team with 14 RBIs. She is hitting .228 and has accumulated 13 hits, two doubles, a triple, and 20 total bases.  

 

Bean Ball Brooke Kempker leads the Valley in a category she’d rather not-- hit by pitch. The sophomore outfielder from Jefferson City, Mo., has been hit eight times this season in 79 plate appearances. She had been hit in seven of her first 34 appearances, which was equal to once every five times she stepped to the plate. Kempker, who has started 24 games and played in 28, is second on the team with a .281 batting average and .403 on-base percentage. In game two of Saturday’s doubleheader with Evansville, Kempker set a career high with four RBIs as she ripped a pair of two-run doubles to lead the Bears to a 9-1 victory.

 

Roberson responds Junior Carrie Roberson made her first start of the season in game two of the doubleheader against Bradley (3/25) and responded with an RBI single in the second inning of the Bears’ 3-1 victory. Roberson has appeared in 23 games as a sub, and is mainly used as a pinch runner.

 

One-run Setbacks   Missouri State has not had much luck in one-run games this season, as the Bears are 1-7 in games decided by one run. MSU lost decisions of 2-1 to Centenary (2/18), 3-2 to Eastern Illinois (2/25), 6-5 to Tulsa (2/25), 1-0 to Oklahoma State (2/28), 3-2 to Saint Louis (3/4), 1-0 to Creighton (3/17) and 1-0 to Bradley (3/25). The Bears’ lone one-run victory came in the season-opener, a 3-2 win over Jackson State (2/10).

 

Early Offense The Bears are 15-3 this season when scoring the first run of the game, and 12-2 when tallying a run in the first inning. On the contrast, MSU is 0-17 when their opponent scores first, including an 0-9 mark when the opposition scores in the first inning.

 

Hit or Miss The recipe for a Missouri State victory this season has been simple: outhit the opponent. When the Bears outhit their oppositions, they are 12-0. However, when opponents surpass MSU’s hit total in a game, the Bears are 0-17. The Bears are 3-3 when hits are even.

 

Lucky Number 3 Through 35 games this season, the Bears are 15-1 when scoring at least three runs in a game. However, Missouri State has not won a game this season without scoring at least three runs. The Bears are 0-19 when failing to tally three runs. Also, the Bears are 14-2 when leading after the third inning, but 1-14 when trailing after the third frame.

 

No Run Support In 11 of pitcher Melissa Porche’s 12 losses, MSU has been shutout or scored only one run.

 

Lineup change After being shutout in game one of the three-game series with Evansville last weekend, coach Holly Hesse made a lineup change placing sophomore Jessie Smith in the leadoff spot and leading hitter Katie Martin in the ninth spot. The move worked to perfection, as the Bears scored nine and six runs to win the last two games of the series. Smith had a two-run home run in each game, Martin hit a three-run homer in the series finale, and new cleanup hitter Brooke Kempker added four RBIs for the Bears.

 

 IN the Record Books Several current players have etched their names into the Missouri State softball record books. As a freshman last season, Jessie Smith scored 40 runs and hit eight home runs to rank third for a single season in each category. Her 87 total bases are also sixth-most all-time. Michelle Armentrout recorded 138 assists from third base last season to rank fifth in a single season. Her 31 RBIs are also 10th-most all-time. Smith and pitcher Melissa Porche both recorded perfect fielding percentages last season to tie atop the category. Porche also recorded a perfect fielding percentage in 2005, as did catcher Lacie Ballard. 

 

Former Players as Coaches Fourteen of coach Holly Hesse’s former players have gone on to become coaches. Those currently coaching at the collegiate level are Annie Medico (head coach- Drury), Tina Kramos (assistant- Illinois State), Sara Cole (assistant- Evansville), and Deanna Keim (graduate assistant- Central Missouri). Also included are Samantha Fleeman (volunteer assistant) and Shannon Buslepp (student assistant) currently at Missouri State; both were members of last years’ 40-win team.

 

MVC Preseason Poll The Missouri State softball team was picked to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason coaches poll. The Bears accumulated 57 points, finishing behind Wichita State (71 points), Southern Illinois (83 points), and preseason favorite  and defending regular season champion Illinois State (86 points). Creighton was picked fifth, followed by Indiana State, Bradley, Drake, Evansville, and Northern Iowa. Senior centerfielder Katie Martin, junior pitcher Melissa Porche, and sophomore shortstop Jessie Smith were all-MVC selections a season ago. Smith was only the second freshman in school history to be named to the first team, while Martin and Porche were second-team picks. However, no Bears were selected to the 2007 MVC preseason all-conference team.


 

 

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