Softball Bears Return to the Road for Weekend Set at SIU
 
Kirstin Cutter scored the game-winning run against SIU last season.
 
Kirstin Cutter scored the game-winning run against SIU last season.
 

April 12, 2013

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The Missouri State softball team (15-21, 6-5) begins a stretch of 12-consecutive conference games with a trip to Charlotte West Stadium for a three-game series against Southern Illinois (16-20, 4-6) this weekend. It will mark the third-straight year that the Bears have played in Carbondale, including last season's MVC Tournament.

The Last Meeting
Southern Illinois2
Missouri State3
April 14, 2012
Springfield, Mo.
Walk-Off Win Ends Bears' Skid Against Southern Illinois
The Missouri State softball team (18-18, 6-8) got a walk-off win in game two to split a doubleheader against Southern Illinois


Missouri State begins another road trip with five straight away from Killian Stadium beginning Saturday. MSU has played 29 of its 36 games this season, including three defacto home games, on the road.

The Bears have run into a tough stretch of late, dropping six of the last seven games. Despite the recent record, MSU still sits atop the league with a .291 team batting average and a .971 fielding percentage.

Junior second baseman Ashley Brentz has been on a tear at the plate. She has hit safely in 15 of the last 18 games, raising her average by more than 100 points. During that stretch, she had a hitting streak of nine games, the longest by a Bear since 2009.

Senior Stevie Pierce continues to climb the all-time MSU charts. She drew career walk number 79 last weekend at Illinois State, the third-most in school history. She has put on a clinic in the field with a career .994 fielding percentage, fourth-best all-time.

The Salukis were picked as preseason co-favorites in the MVC, but got off to a slow 0-4 start to the Valley season. SIU won its last conference home series against Wichita State last weekend, but are a mediocre 7-7 overall at home this year.

QUICK HITS
- The Bears and Salukis have had their season series cut to two games in each of the last four seasons due to weather.

- The Bears are hitting .291 as a team, the best team batting average in the conference.

- Junior third baseman Heather Duckworth drove in a career-best four runs in Saturday's win at Illinois State. For the doubleheader, she reached base in six of her eight plate appearances.

- First baseman Stevie Pierce drew career walk number 79 on Saturday, passing Diedre Shores for third in school history.

- Junior Ashley Brentz has has hit safely in 15 of the last 18 games for the Bears.

FOLLOWING THE BEARS
Video: Bears All-Access will have all three games this weekend in a share from Southern Illinois. Visit MissouriStateBears.com to subscribe.
Audio: None
Live Stats: GameTracker will be provided for all three games at SIU this weekend. For direct links, visit the softball schedule page at MissouriStateBears.com.
Social Media: In-game updates on Missouri State softball can be found via Twitter (@MSUSoftball).

ACROSS THE DIAMOND
Southern Illinois Salukis: The Salukis have not lived up to the preseason co-favorite selection status in the early going this season. SIU began conference play by dropping four straight. Morgan Barchan tops the Saluki lineup with a .387 average, fourth in the league. Jayna Spivey is the only other regular hitting better than .300, but she leads SIU with 29 runs batted in. The Saluki pitching staff has struggled much like the Bears. With a team ERA of 4.36, all three SIU pitchers have an earned run average in the fours. Missouri State snapped a nine-game skid against SIU with a victory in game two of last season's doubleheader.

600 AND COUNTING
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 639-630-2, Hesse is trailing only current Illinois State coach Melinda Fischer (899 wins).

AT THIS PACE
The Bears are on pace to set program records on offense and pitching this season. The team is batting .291 through 36 games, a figure that trails just the 1996 mark of .305. Conversely, the team's ERA is at 4.49 entering the weekend, nearly a full run more than the 3.62 ERA of the 2010 pitching staff.

A LEAGUE OF HER OWN
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 16 walks. Her walk against Illinois State last Saturday, moved her into third all-time with 79 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.

FREE BASES
Missouri State's leading walkers last season are back at it again in 2013. Senior Stevie Pierce tops the Bears with 16 walks this year and has racked up 79 career walks, third-most in program history. Junior Heather Duckworth is tied with Pierce with 16 free passes on the year. Fellow junior Ashley Brentz has 12 bases on balls this season.

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

HAVE GLOVE, WILL FIELD
The Bears defense is first in the league with a .971 fielding percentage. Even more impressive, Missouri State entered the week 24th in the nation in fielding percentage. Senior Pierce has a .994 career fielding percentage, fourth in school history.

MISSOURI STATE SOFTBALL IS ON THE AIR
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 RadioSpringfield.com.

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.

POWER-BALL
The Bears have had plenty of pop in their bats to begin the season, smashing 22 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. Duckworth continued to build on her career high with her third long ball of the season at Illinois State (April 6).

BIG BANG THEORY
The Missouri State offense got off to one of the best starts in school history. The Bears have crossed the plate 165 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.

STEALTHY ON THE BASES
Missouri State has 44 stolen bases this season, nearly the total of 51 amassed in both 2012 and 2011. Senior Kirstin Cutter is 12-for-13 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.

CAREER DAY 2013
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 Heather Duckworth drove in four runs in gmae two at Illinois State on April 6. She became the second Bear with a four RBI game this season. Duckworth's other impressive plate performances include a three-hit outing against Iowa State (Feb. 16) and she scored three runs versus UTSA (Feb.17), both career-bests.

Fellow 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.

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
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.

MVC PRESEASON POLL
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.

ON DECK
Head coach Holly Hesse has commitments from six players to join the 2014 squad. Joining the Bears for the 2013-14 academic year are Allie Alvstad (Tulsa, Okla.), Elena Gambill (Broken Arrow, Okla.), Madison Jones (Overland Park, Kan.), Olivia Roark (Ottumwa, Iowa), Sheridon Sprague (Ballwin, Mo.) and Erin Struemph (Meta, Mo.).

 

 

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