Bears to Tussle with Salukis in Valley Series at Killian
Kirstin Cutter drove in a run at SIU last season.
Kirstin Cutter drove in a run at SIU last season.

April 13, 2012

SIU Series NotesGet Acrobat Reader

The Missouri State softball team (17-17, 5-7) will face Southern Illinois (24-11, 9-3) in a three-game Valley series at Killian Stadium this weekend, continuing the Bears' nine-game home stand. The Bears have had a rough time with SIU in recent years. The last MSU win against the Salukis came in 2008, the last time SIU hosted the MVC Tournament.

Weather has played a factor in the MSU-SIU series in recent years and could again this season. In the last three years, the two teams have only gotten to play two of the three scheduled games.

Missouri State is coming off of its first extra inning game of the season. On Wednesday, the Bears took Tulsa to the eighth inning before the Golden Hurricane got a game-deciding RBI triple for a 2-1 win.

- Natalie Rose entered the week fifth in the nation in fewest walks allowed per game (0.85). She then went out and fired eight innings against Tulsa without a free pass, giving her 18 outings this season without giving up a walk.

- Rose is just 17 strikeouts shy of becoming the third pitcher in MSU history to record 600 punchouts in a career.

- Sophomore Heather Duckworth had a pair of three RBI games last week, both coming in the second game of doubleheaders. She slammed her first home run of the year against Tulsa on Wednesday, giving her nine RBI in the last seven games. Duckworth has also hit safely in 11 of the last 14 games.

- Second baseman Ashley Brentz became the first Bear this season with four consecutive multi-hit games. She had two hits in each game from April 3 (game 2 at UMKC) through April 7.

- Freshman Chelsea Jones has been the pitcher of record in each of the Bears' last two wins. She took a no-hitter into the seventh inning at UMKC on April 3 for one of those victories.

- Wednesday's game against Tulsa was the first extra inning game of the season for the Bears. Last season, MSU played seven extra inning games.

- The last time the Bears beat SIU was in the 2008 MVC Tournament, a 5-0 win in the second round in Carbondale, Ill.

Video: Bears All-Access, visit to subscribe.
Audio: KBFL-AM 1060 will broadcast game one on Saturday.
GameTracker: GameTracker will be provided for all home Missouri State softball games including this weekend's three-game series against Southern Illinois. Fans can follow along by clicking the GameTracker link on the softball schedule page at

Southern Illinois Salukis: SIU comes to Killian Stadium having taken two-of-three games in each of the last three Valley series they have played. Although the Salukis hold a slight series lead, 42-40, they have taken the last eight matchups with MSU. The Salukis have a potent offense this year as they have six run-rule victories this season. Senior Mallory Duran-Sellers leads the SIU attack with a .402 batting average, third among Valley hitters. In the circle, SIU's Alyssa Wunderlich is 9-1 with a 2.93 ERA and a save.

Senior pitcher Natalie Rose struck out Southeast Missouri State's Taylor Cowan to end the fourth inning on Sunday, March 4 for strikeout number 500 of her career. Then on March 24, she struck out Amy Gaertner of Evansville for career strikeout number 546 to take over sole possession of third on the all-time Missouri State list in the category, passing Terri Whitmarsh. Rose leads all active Valley pitchers with 583 strikeouts with Jordan Birch of Illinois State the only other MVC pitcher with more than 500 strikeouts (542).

Head Coach Holly Hesse won her 600th game at the helm of the softball Bears in her 24th season at MSU in a season-opening 7-2 win against Sam Houston State (February 17). With an overall record of 616-600-2, Hesse entered the season tied for 40th on the all-time victories list among active coaches.

Pitcher Natalie Rose had her streak of consecutive innings without issuing a walk snapped at 31.2 when she issued a free pass in the fourth inning of the February 26 game vs. Western Illinois. The last walk Rose had issued came in the second inning of the State Farm MVC Tournament Championship game versus Drake on May 14, 2011. Rose has allowed just 14 bases on balls this season, the fewest walks per game ratio (0.81) in the Valley and entered the week sixth in the nation in fewest walks per seven innings.

Missouri State has three hitters with 16 or more walks this season. Only Creighton and SIU have as many hitters with as many walks. Stevie Pierce leads the Bears with 19 free passes, with Lauren Eisenreich and Ashley Brentz have 17 and 16 bases on balls, respectively. Pierce had three consecutive multi-walk games from March 31 through April 3, the only player in the past four seasons to accomplish the feat. Brentz had back-to-back two walk games on March 27 and March 31 and Pierce had back-to-back multi walk games in 2011 (March 9 at North Texas [4] and March 12 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff [2]).

Five remaining Missouri State home softball games will be broadcast on radio and/or television this season.

2012 Broadcast schedule
Date - Opponent - Media Outlet
April 14 - SIU (game 1 only) - KBFL-am 1060
April 18 - Wichita State (DH) - KBFL-am 1060
April 28 - Indiana St (game 1 only) - KBFL-am 1060
May 2 - Arkansas - KBFL-am 1060 & MediaCom TV

The Missouri State offense has heated up since the official start of spring. On Thursday (March 22) at Eastern Illinois, the Bears tied a season-high with 11 hits and scored five runs in the sixth inning, the highest single inning total of the season. Then on Saturday, March 24 at Evansville, Missouri State continued to sizzle with a six-run fourth inning that led to an 11 run outing, the highest run total since a 14-10 win at Evansville in 2010. Since the official start of spring, the team batting average has risen 23 points since March 20.

After launching the second-highest MSU single season total of eight home run in 2010, junior Caitlin Chapin has found her power stroke again in 2012. On Saturday, March 24, Chapin blasted a home run in each game of the doubleheader at Evansville to give her a team-leading four dingers this season. She is the only Bear with more than one four-bagger this year. Her 14 career homers is just two shy of fifth in school history.

Several returning Missouri State players have had career days already this season. Sophomore Ashley Brentz had her first career four-hit game on opening day (February 17) against Sam Houston State and stole her first base. It was the first four-hit performance by a Bear since another second baseman, Christa Gammon, had four hits in game one of a doubleheader against UNI on May 8, 2010.

On that Sunday (February 19), senior Raeven Replogle had a career-best three-RBI game against South Dakota State. Junior Caitlin Chapin had two stolen bases and sophomore Heather Duckworth scored two runs, both career highs.

At the Blues City Classic in Memphis, Tenn., Brentz and Kirstin Cutter each recorded their first multi-RBI games of their careers. Both feats occurred on Saturday (February 25) as Cutter drove in both runs in the Bears' 2-1 win over Miami (OH). In the nightcap, Brentz drove in two of the four runs in MSU's 4-1 win over SEMO.

On March 24, Brentz scored three times in MSU's 11-2 six inning win at Evansville. The three runs scored was a career-best for the second baseman.

Duckworth had another career day at UMKC on April 3. She drove in three runs in a 4-2 Bears' win. Two of the RBI came in the top of the seventh inning, plating the winning run. She followed that up with another three RBI game against Bradley on April 6.

The Bears are slated to play 11 games against teams from power conferences or 2011 NCAA Tournament participants. Thus far MSU has victories over Memphis, Iowa State, Illinois State and Kansas. The Bears have played Big 12 foes well, suffering tough losses to then-No. 13 Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas and Tulsa, in extra innings. In all the Bears will play 11 games against feisty foes from the Big 12, SEC or a 2011 NCAA Tournament team (Memphis, 1; Missouri, 1; Iowa State, 2; Illinois State, 3; Kansas, 2; Tulsa, 1; Arkansas, 1). The first seven games at Killian Stadium were against Big 12 opponents or 2011 NCAA Tournament participants.

The Bears began the season as road warriors with three-straight tournaments and the first 12 games being played away from Killian Stadium. Missouri State went 8-4 in the season-opening road swing.

The Bears were picked to finish fourth in the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference coaches' preseason poll. Defending regular season champion Illinois State is favored with UNI and Southern Illinois sandwiched between ISU and the Bears.

After sweeping through the MVC Tournament in 2011, the Bears will be tasked with repeating that feat in Carbondale, Ill., as SIU will host the 2012 Championship. Missouri State earned its sixth title last season, tied for the most by any school. Hesse has 45 of the Bears' 67 wins in the MVC Tournament, both totals are the best in the Valley.



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