Softball Bears Return to the Road for Weekend Set at SIU
April 12, 2013
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 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.
- 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
ACROSS THE DIAMOND
600 AND COUNTING
AT THIS PACE
A LEAGUE OF HER OWN
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.
Last season, Brentz and Pierce tied with 29 walks each, the fourth-best single season totals in school history.
HAVE GLOVE, WILL FIELD
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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
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 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
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