After rain forced the cancellation of Wednesday's doubleheader at Tulsa, the Missouri State softball team returns to Springfield for the final home series of the season this weekend against Drake. Missouri State took two of three from Indiana State last weekend to even the Bears' league record at 9-9. Coach Holly Hesse picked up her 500th career victory in Sunday's 1-0 win over the Sycamores.
The opponents Tulsa (26-24 overall, 9-8 Conference USA) split a doubleheader with Texas-Arlington Wednesday (4/18) in their last action, winning game one, 1-0, before falling in the nightcap, 5-0. Freshman Jackie Lawrence pitched her second no-hitter of the season in the Golden Hurricane’s victory. Tulsa defeated the Bears, 6-5, in eight innings, earlier this season (2/25) at the Holiday Inn Select Tulsa Festival. Lawrence picked up the win for Tulsa in a complete game performance, while MSU’s Melissa Porche suffered the loss in relief after TU’s Vanessa Vice capped a two-run eighth-inning rally with a walk-off double.
Drake snapped an 11-game losing streak with an 8-6 win over Evansville Saturday, but dropped the final two games of the series, 15-9 on Saturday and 7-1 Sunday. The Bulldogs (13-33 overall, 3-15 MVC) will host Creighton in an MVC matchup on Tuesday and Missouri-Kansas City in a doubleheader Wednesday.
Series records Missouri State holds a 24-12 advantage all-time against Tulsa after the Golden Hurricane’s 6-5 victory earlier this season. Last season, MSU swept a doubleheader with Tulsa in Springfield by tallies of 5-2 and 2-1. The Bears also lead the all-time series with Drake, 36-30-1. Missouri State won both meetings with the Bulldogs in Des Moines last season, winning by scores of 2-1 and 7-0.
Coach Holly Hesse Missouri State head coach Holly Hesse (Creighton, ’82) is 500-473-2 (.514) in her 19th season at Missouri State. Hesse picked up her 500th career victory in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Indiana State, joining only Illinois State’s Melinda Fischer in the Valley with 500 Division I wins. Only 47 active Division I coaches began the season with more than 500 career victories. 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. She entered the season 49th among active Division I head coaches in career wins. The Missouri State Bears are playing in their 39th season and have an all-time record of 879-709-2.
Last Week The Missouri State softball team took two of three from Indiana State last weekend in Terre Haute. The Bears split a doubleheader Saturday, winning 6-4 and losing 11-0 in five innings, before taking the rubber match 1-0 on Sunday in coach Holly Hesse’s 500th career victory.
The Bears struck early in game one of the twinbill Saturday, as senior Katie Martin singled with one out in the top of the first and junior Michelle Armentrout followed with a two-out, two-run home run. Missouri State added a run in the third on a double by Martin and another in the fourth, as sophomore Brooke Kempker crossed the plate.
Missouri State added what proved to be two crucial insurance runs in the top of the seventh, as Armentrout again came up with a clutch two-out hit; a two-run double to push the Bears’ lead to 6-0. However, in the bottom of the seventh, Indiana State sent eight batters to the plate and tallied four runs on four hit before MSU starting pitcher Melissa Porche (14-14) buckled down and induced a game-ending groundout to preserve the victory.
Game two was all Sycamores from the start, as the home team tallied seven first inning runs and never looked back. INSU was aided by two Missouri State errors in the opening frame, as Bears starter Lauren McGinley (0-2) lasted only 0.1 innings. Fellow freshman Megan Ramsey came in and allowed five runs on six hits in 3.2 innings of relief. Martin and Armentrout picked up the only MSU hits in the contest.
The rubber match Sunday was decided by one swing of the bat, a solo home run by MSU’s Kempker to lead off the second inning. Porche was terrific on the mound again, picking up her second victory in as many days for the Bears. The righthander worked around INSU hits in each of the first three innings. Porche’s biggest jam came in the bottom of the sixth, as the Sycamores had runners on the corners with one out following a pair of singles. But, the MSU hurler struck out pinch hitter Katie Armour and induced an inning-ending Natalie Kopp pop out to end the threat. Porche retired the top of the Sycamore lineup in order in the bottom of the seventh to ensure the victory.
With the win, Porche improved to 15-14 on the season; two wins shy of a career high. She allowed six hits and three walks in her 21st complete game and seventh shutout of the season.
Martin Honored Senior outfielder Katie Martin was selected as the Prairie Farms/Missouri Valley Conference Female Scholar-Athlete of the Week on April 12 for her performance during the period of April 2-8.
Martin, a native of Baldwin City, Kan., hit safely in all three MSU games, as the Bears defeated Wichita State and split with UNI. The centerfielder has a 3.93 cumulative grade-point average in medical technology. She connected for a walk-off double -- her third of MSU’s five hits in the game -- in the bottom of the 11th inning to drive in the only run in Missouri State’s triumph over WSU. She also had a hit and two runs scored in the Bears’ win over UNI.
On April 4, Martin was named as one of 20 semifinalists for the Lowe’s CLASS Award in recognition of her accomplishments both on and off the field.
She is one of 20 candidates; with the winner being selected through fan balloting in conjunction with votes by coaches, media and various sponsors after the field is narrowed to 10 finalists later this month. The winner will be announced during the 2007 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Martin was nominated for the honor based on her performance on the diamond as well as her personal character and achievements in the classroom and community. Martin is the softball representative for Missouri State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and has been active in MSU softball’s fundraising and community service efforts throughout her four years at Missouri State.
500 Club With Sunday’s 1-0 win over Indiana State, Missouri State head coach Holly Hesse joined Illinois State’s Melinda Fischer as the only coaches in the Valley with 500 Division I victories. Only 50 active Division I coaches have won 500 career games. Creighton’s Brent Vigness is included on this list, but 148 of his wins came at Division II Assumption College. Hesse’ s 500th victory came in her 19th season and 975th game.
Bears among MVC Leaders Several Bears rank among the top 10 in Missouri Valley Conference statistical categories. Pitcher Melissa Porche is second in innings pitched (193.2) and games started (29), fourth in strikeouts (188) and appearances (35), and seventh in earned-run average (2.06) and wins (15).
Jessie Smith and Katie Martin are one-two in the league with 15 and 14 stolen bases, respectively. Brooke Kempker is tied atop the hit by pitch category, with eight. Martin is also sixth with 24 walks and seventh with a .440 on-base percentage. Jen Carr’s perfect fielding percentage is tied atop the category, and she is one of only five players to be errorless with over 100 fielding chances.
As a team, Missouri State is second in the conference with a .970 fielding percentage, which ranks 23rd nationally. The Bears are also 2nd in the Valley with 55 stolen bases.
Lineup change After being shut out in game one of a three-game series with Evansville (3/31), 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 final 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.
Martin relocated to the second spot in the lineup for MSU’s game against Wichita State (4/4) and responded with a walk-off double in the 11th inning of the Bears’ 1-0 victory. Martin has remained in the second spot ever since, and has hit .464 in 10 games since moving from the leadoff role. Missouri State is 7-3 since Smith assumed the role of leadoff batter, and the shortstop has tallied nine hits, eight runs, three doubles, two triples, and two homers in that time.
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 15-14 with a 1.99 ERA in 193.2 innings of work. She is currently second in the MVC in innings pitched and games started (29) and is fourth with 188 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. 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.
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. During the weekend, Porche passed the 100-strikeout mark for the third consecutive season.
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 shut out. Porche was 2-1 as the Bears won an MVC series with Evansville (3/31 & 4/1), and during the weekend set a new career high in strikeouts, passing her total of 141 from last season.
Her 11-inning complete game shutout against Wichita State (4/4) was her longest outing of the season as she evened her record at 12-12. Porche had a 20-inning scoreless streak broke in a loss to UNI (4/6) and picked up her first save of the season against the Panthers the following day (4/7) in a 10-8 Bears’ victory. Porche picked up both MSU victories over Indiana State last weekend, including her 21st complete game and seventh shutout in the Bears’ 1-0 win in the rubber match Sunday.
New position, same Results Two of Missouri State’s returning all-conference selections from last season have made position changes in 2007. First Team All-MVC selection Jessie Smith moved from right field to shortstop and Katie Martin relocated from left field to center field. The new positions have not changed the duo’s offensive production, as the two have led the Bears’ offensive attack so far this season.
Smith and Martin are two of only three Bears to have started every game this season. The pair have made easy transitions to their new positions as Smith and Martin have posted .979 and .982 fielding percentages, respectively. Smith leads the team with 73 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).
One-TWO Punch With the recent lineup change, Smith and Martin are now hitting in the first and second spots in the lineup, respectively. The duo is also one-two in nearly every offensive statistical category, including a share of the team lead with two triples and five multi-RBI games.
Martin leads the team with 42 hits, nine doubles, 28 runs, 24 walks, and 70 total bases. She also leads the Bears with a .333 batting average, .556 slugging percentage, .440 on-base percentage, and has a team-best 13 multi-hit games. Martin’s 14 stolen bases are second-most in the Valley, her 24 base on balls are sixth, and her .440 OBP ranks seventh. 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. The senior was again the hero in a 1-0, 11-inning victory over Wichita State (4/4) as she hit a walk-off double to score Smith.
Smith leads the Bears with six home runs, including two-run homers in consecutive games against Evansville (3/31 & 4/1) after moving to the leadoff spot in the lineup. The shortstop’s 3-for-4 performance against Southern Illinois in game one of a doubleheader (4/15) extended her hit streak to seven games, the longest of the season on the team. The steak was snapped in game two of the twinbill. Smith has 15 stolen bases this season which leads the MVC, and is second on the Bears’ squad behind Martin with 35 hits, 25 runs scored, 64 total bases, and 16 walks. The Blue Springs, Mo., native is also second on the team with a .271 batting average and .496 slugging percentage. 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 (2/11) 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).
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 122 starts through 43 games this season.
Lauren McGinley is one of three Bears to have started every game this season, with 39 coming at first base and three on the mound. The Oklahoma City, Okla., native has 11 hits with six RBIs and three runs scored. McGinley held a perfect fielding percentage until she committed an error against UNI (4/6), but the first baseman is still 217 of 220 (.986) in fielding chances this season.
Jodie Shead has started 29 games and played in 35, including 27 starting assignments in left field. A graduate of softball powerhouse Lafayette High in Wildwood, Mo., Shead is tied for second on the team with four sacrifice bunts. Her .319 on-base percentage is the fourth-best mark on the team, and her .235 batting average is fifth. For the season, she has 19 hits, four doubles, eight runs scored, and six RBIs. Shead has three multi-hit games and hit safely in five straight games earlier this season.
Dusti Foster has started all but two games this season for the Bears at second base, picking up nine hits, three doubles, eight runs, and 12 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). Foster’s two-run go-ahead double was part of an eight-run sixth inning in the Bears’ 10-8 win over Northern Iowa (4/7).
Pitcher Megan Ramsey has started 10 games and appeared in 20 contests, and has a 5-6 record. The Ottawa, Kan., native has emerged as the number two starter for the Bears and owns a 3.61 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 75.2 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. Ramsey got the win in relief in the Bears’ 10-8 victory over Northern Iowa (4/7).
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 22 games behind the plate while Ballard has been the starter in 20 contests. A native of Lomita, Calif., Carr has no errors in 145 fielding chances, which are the fourth-most chances without an error in the MVC. She leads the team with five sacrifice bunts, and is tied for third 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 has 16 hits, five doubles, a triple, and six RBIs this seson. The St. Louis, Mo., native is fourth on the team with 16 runs scored. Ballard’s five doubles tie for fourth on the team and she has four multi-hit games this season. The junior has also made eight starts as the designated hitter. Behind the plate, Ballard has thrown out eight 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 the Kangaroos. In 33 starts this season, Armentrout has a .250 batting average with 24 hits, five doubles, a triple, two home runs, and 16 RBIs. She is third on the team with 24 hits and 40 total bases, fourth with 16 RBIs, and fifth with 13 runs scored. Her .417 slugging percentage and .250 batting average rank third and fourth, respectively, on the squad. Armentrout was the star in the Bears’ 6-4 victory over Indiana State last Saturday, going 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and two-run double.
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.
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 also 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 blast.
Since Armentrout’s return, Shewmaker has been primarily used as the team’s designated hitter. While starting only 24 games this season, Shewmaker is third on the team with 17 RBIs. She is hitting .219 and has accumulated 16 hits, four doubles, a triple, and 25 total bases. She had a team-high three RBIs, including a double and two-run single, in MSU’s 10-8 victory over Northern Iowa (4/7).
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 103 plate appearances. She had been hit in seven of her first 34 appearances. Kempker, who has started 32 games and played in 36, ranks second on the team with a .386 on-base percentage and is third with a .253 batting average. She is fifth on the squad with 14 RBIs and 21 hits.
Kempker was the hero of the Bears’ 1-0 victory over Indiana State Sunday, as she hit her first career home run to account for the only scoring in the contest. In game two of a doubleheader with Evansville (3/31), 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 a 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 27 games as a sub and is typically the first player off the bench, used mainly in a pinch runner role.
One-run Setbacks Missouri State has not experienced much luck in one-run games this season, as the Bears are 4-7 in games decided by one run. However, the Bears have won their last three games decided by a lone run, a 1-0, 11-inning victory over Wichita State (4/4), a 4-3 triumph over Southern Illinois (4/15), and a 1-0 decision at Indiana State (4/22). MSU has lost by scores 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’ other one-run victory came in the season opener, a 3-2 win over Jackson State (2/10).
No Run Support In 13 of pitcher Melissa Porche’s 14 losses, MSU has been shut out or scored only one run.
Early Offense The Bears are 19-3 this season when scoring the first run of the game, and 14-2 when tallying a run in the first inning. On the contrast, MSU is 1-20 when their opponent scores first, including an 1-11 mark when the opposition scores in the first inning. Missouri State won their only game when an opponent scored first when the Bears rallied from a two-run Northern Iowa opening frame to take a 10-8 victory on April 7.
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 14-0. However, when opponents surpass MSU’s hit total in a game, the Bears are 3-20. MSU is 3-3 this season when hits are even.
Lucky Number 3 Through 43 games this season, the Bears are 18-1 when scoring at least three runs in a game. However, Missouri State is 2-22 this season when failing to tally three runs in a contest. In addition, the Bears are 16-2 when leading after the third inning, but 1-17 when trailing after the third frame.
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 were 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.