Bears to Host Arkansas in Final Non-Conference Game of Season
 

 

 

Missouri State Bears (14-27, 9-10 MVC) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (25-24, 8-14 SEC)

Date: Wednesday, April 28 @ 5 p.m.
Site: Killian Softball Stadium (1,200)Location: Springfield, Mo.
Live Stats: MissouriStateBears.comLive Video: Bears Live
Series History: MSU leads 18-16
Last Meeting: Arkansas won, 6-5 (2/20/10)
Current Streak: Teams have split four contests over the last two seasons

Overview
After dropping all three of their contests last week at Killian Stadium, the Missouri State Bears will look to close out the home portion of their 2010 schedule in style this week. The Bears will face off against the Arkansas Razorbacks Wednesday (April 28) evening before taking on the Indiana State Sycamores this weekend in their final home Valley series of the season.

The Bears lost their 10th one-run decision of the year last Wednesday vs. Tulsa, then dropped both ends of their Sunday doubleheader against Illinois State. At 9-10 in MVC play, MSU still has some work to do to wrap up its sixth consecutive conference tournament berth. The Bears can secure a spot in the eight-team field with a strong showing against Indiana State, which enters the week in last place in the Valley standings with a 3-16 mark in conference play. After starting the season 24-12 overall and winning eight of its first 10 SEC games, Arkansas has lost 12 of its last 13 contests. The Razorbacks claimed a 6-5 victory over the Bears in the two clubs' first meeting of the season at the North Texas Sleep Inn Classic in Denton, Texas on Feb. 20.

 Quick Hits
-Missouri State has lost five straight home games for the second consecutive year
-The Bears have dropped seven consecutive games in which they have scored three runs or less
-MSU has posted seven of its nine MVC victories away from Killian Stadium and is 8-8 overall in true road contests this season
-On the strength of its three-game sweep at Creighton, Missouri State has a 3-4 mark against the top three teams in the MVC standings (Illinois State, Southern Illinois and Creighton); the Bears' three wins vs. the group is tops among the seven Valley squads not ranked in the top three
-Junior Tyler Porter led the Bears with a .500 (4-for-8) batting average last week and is 7-for-11 (.636) at the plate over the Bears' last four outings
-Junior Christa Gammon is tied for the MVC lead in triples in conference play with two and ranks sixth in hits (21) and ninth in runs scored (14)
-Freshman Caitlin Chapin ranks eighth in MVC play with a .348 batting average and has a team-best seven multi-RBI games overall, including one of three 4-RBI games turned in by a Bear this season
-Chapin is hitting .385 (15-for-39) with four of her six homers in MSU's 16 true road games, but just .241 (7-for-29) in 14 contests at Killian Stadium
-Junior infielder Jenna Schwark leads the club and ranks fifth in the MVC in overall batting (.339); she is tied for the team lead in hits (40), and tops on the squad with 17 walks and 57 total bases
-Sophomore right-hander Natalie Rose's two saves in conference play lead the MVC

Follow the Bears
Live stats for each of this week's games will be available at the official home of Bears Softball on the Web, www.MissouriStateBears.com. Additionally, Wednesday's game will be broadcast on KBFL 1060 AM, with Matt Evans calling the action. A live video stream will also be available through Bears Live, MSU's premium broadband video destination for exclusive live and on-demand streamed content. The subscription-based service will include video as well as an audio play-by-play feed, courtesy of Meyer Communications, for six regular-season MSU softball games in 2010.

Series History
The Bears hold a slim 18-16 edge in their series with Arkansas after the Razorbacks posted a 6-5 win on Feb. 20 in the two clubs' first meeting of the season in Denton, Texas. MSU won last year's game in Fayetteville, and the teams split a doubleheader two seasons ago in UA's last trip to Springfield.

Missouri State holds a commanding 45-18 lead in its series with Indiana State and enters this weekend's action having won four straight from the Sycamores and 10 of the last 11 meetings overall. The Bears swept ISU in Terre Haute for the second straight time last season, and the clubs split their two Valley games in Springfield in 2008.

Senior Send-Off
This weekend's series with Indiana State will mark the final home contests for three Missouri State seniors. Lauren McGinley, Lauren Supak and Bubba Weiss will be recognized on field at Killian Softball Stadium following Sunday's series finale with the Sycamores.

Scouting the Bears
Picked to finish seventh in this year's preseason Missouri Valley Conference race, the Bears have recovered nicely from an 0-7 start to the season to post wins in nine of their last 17 games in league play. The MSU offense has been led by junior infielder Jenna Schwark, who is batting .339 with four homers, 15 runs driven in and a team-high 57 total bases. Another junior, Christa Gammon, has also been strong at the plate so far in 2010, entering the week with a .313 batting mark to go along with team highs of 24 runs scored and eight stolen bases. MSU has gotten significant contributions from a talented freshman class, led by Caitlin Chapin, Kirstin Cutter and Madison Hargrove. Chapin has a team-best 24 RBIs to go along with six home runs, and Cutter is hitting .256 with six steals. Hargrove has been strong both at the plate and behind it, posting a .256 batting average while starting all but two of MSU's first 41 games at catcher. Junior Ashley Knehans has been one of the Bears' top power threats with a career-high six home runs and 17 RBIs. In circle, a trio of returnees have shared duties, led by senior Lauren Supak (6-8, 3.51 ERA), who has gone 5-4 with 47 strikeouts in 15 MVC outings, posting a 3.43 ERA. Senior Lauren McGinley (4-9, 4.76 ERA) has made a team-high 16 starts, completing five games, and sophomore Natalie Rose (4-10, 3.24 ERA, 2 saves) has a team-high 85 strikeouts in 97.1 innings of work.

Scouting the Opposition
Arkansas will be looking to break free from a recent slump that has seen the Razorbacks drop 12 of their last 13 contests after starting the season 24-12. UA is led by a trio of seniors at the plate, beginning with outfielder Jessica Bachkora, who paces the club with a .371 batting average and 13 home runs and leads the SEC in doubles (16) and total bases (116). Third baseman Sandra Smith has also been solid, hitting .320 with nine homers and a club-high 45 runs batted-in on the year coming into the week. Designated player Miranda Dixon also gives the Hogs a key power bat in the middle of the lineup, entering Wednesday's game with 12 dingers and a .623 slugging percentage. In the circle, Arkansas' freshman right-hander Hope McLemore has gone 12-9 with a 2.76 ERA and three saves in her first year as a collegiate. Junior righty Layne McGuirt has also given UA some solid innings, coming into the week with an 8-9 record.

Coming up Roses
Sophomore right-hander Natalie Rose continued a string of solid performances by allowing just one earned run in 17.0 innings vs. Wichita State and Drake, April 14-18. Rose was the Bears' most-consistent pitcher over a nine-game span (March 30-April 18), going 3-1 with a shutout and a save while posting a microscopic 0.46 ERA. Over the course of that same stretch, Rose held the opposition to a .192 batting average while recording 24 strikeouts against just one walk. She was successful thanks in large part to her command, producing a stretch of 33 1/3 innings in which she issued just one base on balls. That followed a stretch of 55.0 innings to start the season in which she handed out 21 walks while compiling a 1-7 record and 4.45 ERA. 

Bouncing Back
After batting just .131 as a team over a four-game stretch (April 14-17), the Bears rebounded with back-to-back nine-hit performances in a 6-0 win at Drake (April 18) and a 4-3 setback to Tulsa (April 21). MSU's offensive outburst represented its top two single-game efforts at the plate since banging out 11 hits in a 6-2 win at Evansville on March 27.

Slump-Buster
Junior outfielder Tyler Porter has emerged from her mid-season batting slump in a big way over the Bears' last four outings. After collecting hits in just three of her previous 22 at-bats spanning 11 games, the Broken Arrow, Okla., native has gone 7-for-11 (.636) since April 18. In those four contests, Porter has three multi-hit games and has scored three times for MSU. She snapped out of her funk with a 3-for-3 afternoon vs. Drake (April 18) to key MSU's offense in a 6-0 victory over the Bulldogs. Her three hits and two runs scored matched career highs, and her second-inning double that sparked a two-run rally for the Bears represented her first extra-base hit since Feb. 20, 2009.

Power Outage
After charting a record-pace for team home runs with 22 long balls through their first 29 games of the season, the Bears have hit just two dingers over their last 12 games. The opposition, on the other hand, has clubbed 13 round-trippers over the same stretch and have now accounted for 39 homers overall on the season. The dry spell for the Bears followed a seven-game span in which MSU hit 11 homers to go 5-2 (March 26-April 3).

In spite of the homer drought, the Bears have already surpassed their season totals from each of the last two seasons, when MSU hit 20 and 21 homers, respectively. Their 24 taters ranks as the sixth-highest team total ever at Missouri State.

Chugging Along With Chapin
One of the primary reasons for the Bears' success with the long ball has been the emergence of freshman Caitlin Chapin, who shares the team lead with six home runs. Her total already rates among the top 10 all-time single-season figures in school history and is the third-best mark ever for a Missouri State freshman. The Ozark, Mo., native needs just one more homer to match Staci Watti (2000) for the No. 2 spot on the chart, and only two to equal Jessie Smith's (2006) MSU freshman record of eight dingers.

Chapin reached base safely via a hit or walk in 11 consecutive games from March 26-April 11. Chapin drew six walks during the Bears' series win over Bradley (April 10-11) to record a team-high .692 on-base percentage for the week. Over the 11-game stretch, Chapin went 13-for-30 (.433) with four homers and 12 RBIs to go along with a .541 on-base percentage and a .900 slugging percentage.

One and Done
After dropping a 4-3 decision to Tulsa (April 21), the Bears' record in one-run contests fell to 4-10 on the season. Over the past two seasons, the Bears have played 30 one-run games, going just 11-19 in those outings.

Supak Shocks the Shocks
With  a 1-0 win at Wichita State (March 24), senior righty Lauren Supak continued a stretch of dominance vs. the Shockers. Supak turned in complete-game shutouts in each of her first three career outings against WSU. She blanked the Shockers, 5-0 on March 26, 2009, in Wichita after giving up only six hits, and duplicated the feat on April 15 of last season, registering a 4-0, seven-hitter at Killian Stadium. In all, the Colorado Springs native allowed just 16 hits while fanning eight over her 21.0 straight shutout innings vs. WSU before her 5-1 home loss to the Shockers on April 14.

The Bears lost their 10th one-run decision of the year last Wednesday vs. Tulsa, then dropped both ends of their Sunday doubleheader against Illinois State. At 9-10 in MVC play, MSU still has some work to do to wrap up its sixth consecutive conference tournament berth. The Bears can secure a spot in the eight-team field with a strong showing against Indiana State, which enters the week in last place in the Valley standings with a 3-16 mark in conference play. After starting the season 24-12 overall and winning eight of its first 10 SEC games, Arkansas has lost 12 of its last 13 contests. The Razorbacks claimed a 6-5 victory over the Bears in the two clubs' first meeting of the season at the North Texas Sleep Inn Classic in Denton, Texas on Feb. 20.

 


 

 

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