Softball Hits Road to Face Redbirds in Weekend Conference Series
Rebecca McPherson had two hits in the Bears' win over ISU last season.
Rebecca McPherson had two hits in the Bears' win over ISU last season.

April 5, 2013

Illinois State Series NotesGet Acrobat Reader

The Missouri State softball team (14-18, 5-3) will continue an intensive stretch of games with a three-game set at Illinois State (15-14, 1-2) on Saturday and Sunday. The three games end a five-game span this week versus NCAA Tournament teams from 2012.

The Last Meeting
Illinois State2
Missouri State4
March 17, 2012
Springfield, Mo.
Softball Bears Rally to Knock Off Illinois State in Series Finale
The Missouri State softball team (10-8, 1-2) bounced back with a 4-2 win over Illinois State (15-13, 2-1) at Killian Stadium on Saturday

The Redbirds were picked as preseason co-favorites in the MVC, but have only been able to get in three conference games thus far due to weather. Despite a mediocre 15-14 record, ISU has played 10 top-25 teams recording three wins in those games.

Missouri State freshman Mary Stephens continues to lead the Bears offensive that is hitting a league-best .301 this season. Stephens tops the team with 35 hits and a .365 average, placing her among the top-7 in the Valley in both categories.

Senior Stevie Pierce has put on a stellar display this season, most recently recording three hits on Wednesday against nationally-ranked Missouri. She set career highs in numerous offensive categories this season and has moved up the career ranks in walks (tied for third), home runs (one shy of reaching the top-5) and fielding percentage (fourth).

The Bears hope to gain from a tough doubleheader loss against No. 6/7 Missouri on Tuesday. MSU was held off the scoreboard in consecutive games for the first time since March 2012. The Bears did get six hits off of Tigers pitching and held Missouri's top hitter hitless in game one.

- Missouri State is in the midst of a stretch of six out of seven games against NCAA Tournament teams from last season (Missouri [2], Illinois State [3], Arkansas [1]).

- The Bears are hitting .301 as a team, the best team batting average in the conference.

- Freshman Mary Stephens leads the Bears with 35 hits and a .365 batting average, both of which ranks her in the top-7 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. 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.

Video: Bears All-Access will have all three games this weekend in a share from Illinois State. Visit to subscribe. Audio: Illinois State will have a free live audio stream online. To listen, visit the Bears schedule page and click the Listen Live link. Live Stats: GameTracker will be provided for all three games at Illinois State this weekend. For direct links, visit the softball schedule page at Social Media: In-game updates on Missouri State softball can be found via Twitter (@MSUSoftball).

Illinois State Redbirds: The Redbirds have a 15-14 record, but have played 10 top-25 teams this season, winning three of those games. Catcher/infielder Elizabeth Kay picked up her third MVC Player of the Week award and leads ISU with a .402 average, seven home runs, a .505 on-base percentage and a .696 slugging percentage. Kay has a team-best 11 multi-hit and nine multi-RBI games this year. The Redbirds' pitching staff has a 3.67 ERA this season with all four pitchers over 3.50 on the year. Since the beginning of the 2009 season, the Redbirds have won eight of 12 against Missouri State, winning every game in which the Redbirds scored more than two runs.

Head Coach Holly Hesse won her 634th game at the helm of the softball Bears in a 8-2 win vs. UNI (March 16) to move into second in all-time wins by an MVC coach. With an overall record of 638-627-2, Hesse is trailing only current Illinois State coach Melinda Fischer (896 wins).

The Bears are on pace to set program records on offense and pitching this season. The team is batting .301 through 32 games, just four points shy of the 1996 mark of .305. Conversely, the team's ERA is at 4.57 entering the weekend, nearly a full run more than the 3.62 ERA of the 2010 pitching staff.

Missouri State senior Stevie Pierce was honored by the league as Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week on February 11. The accolade has been scarce for MSU players as the last MVC Player of the Week honor came in 2009 when Jessie Smith won the award on March 30.

She leads all Bears with seven home runs, 29 runs batted in, 55 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.

Missouri State's leading walkers last season are back at it again in 2013. Senior Stevie Pierce tops the Bears with 15 walks this year and has racked up 78 career walks, third-most in program history. Juniors Heather Duckworth and Ashley Brentz have 14 and 11 bases on balls this season, respectively.

Last season, Brentz and Pierce tied with 29 walks each, the fourth-best single season totals in school history.

The Bears defense is first in the league with a .971 fielding percentage. Even more impressive, Missouri State entered the week 25th in the nation in fielding percentage. Senior Pierce has faced the most chances in the league at 251. Her .994 career fielding percentage is fourth in school history.

Meyer Communications will broadcast three more regular season Missouri State softball games live from Killian Stadium this spring. All broadcasts can be heard on KBFL (1060 AM) in Springfield or via the web at

2013 Radio Broadcast Schedule
Saturday, April 20 - Evansville (game 1) - 12:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 24 - Wichita State - 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 27 - Creighton (game 1) - 12:00 p.m.

The Bears have had plenty of pop in their bats to begin the season, smashing 21 home runs. Senior Caitlin Chapin hit three long balls, one against Georgia Tech (Feb. 9) another against Butler (Feb. 10) and a no-doubter at SEMO (March 7), giving her 17 big flies for her career, fifth in program history.

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.

The Missouri State offense got off to one of the best starts in school history. The Bears have crossed the plate 157 times already this season, more than all of last year.

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.

Missouri State has 41 stolen bases this season, more than half of last year's total. Senior Kirstin Cutter is 11-for-12 in steal attempts to lead the squad and seventh in the Valley.

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.

Some of the Missouri State players have chalked up career best performances already this season.

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).

Some MSU hitters got their first base knocks over the opening weekend. Junior Ciara Flau had a big first game of the season, picking up two hits against Kennesaw State (Feb. 8), the first base hits of her career. One of her hits was a bases loaded single that drove in her first run.

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 are in the midst of a stretch of six out of seven games against NCAA Tournament teams from last season. Beginning with the doubleheader against Missouri on Wednesday and continuing with the three games at Illinois State this weekend, MSU plays five consecutive games versus last year's tournament teams. Next week, the Bears travel to Arkansas to face the Razorbacks.

The Bears began the season by playing three of the first five 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 at Tulsa on May 1 to finish up the non-conference slate, the 10th game of the season against an NCAA Tournament team from 2012.

The Bears were picked to finish sixth in the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference coaches' preseason poll. Defending tournament champion Illinois State and Southern Illinois are favored with defending regular season champs, UNI, slotted third. Creighton and Drake were also selected ahead of the Bears.



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