Missouri State Bears (14-28, 9-10 MVC) vs. Indiana State Sycamores (18-27, 3-16 MVC)
Saturday, May 1 @ 12 p.m. (DH)Sunday, May 2 @ 12 p.m.
Site: Killian Softball Stadium (1,200)Location: Springfield, Mo.
Live Stats: MissouriStateBears.comLive Video: Bears Live
Series History: MSU leads, 45-18
Last Meeting: MSU won, 2-0 (3/22/09), at Terre Haute, Ind.
Current Streak: MSU has won four straight in the series
The Missouri State Bears will try to put the brakes on a four-game losing streak this weekend when they conclude the home portion of their 2010 schedule by hosting the Indiana State Sycamores in a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series at Killian Stadium.
The Bears have dropped six of their last seven conference games and, at 9-10 in Valley play, still have some work to do to wrap up their sixth consecutive MVC Tournament berth. MSU can secure a spot in the eight-team field with a strong showing against the Sycamores, who enter the weekend in last place in the Valley standings with a 3-16 mark in conference play.
-Missouri State has lost six straight home games for the second consecutive year
-The Bears have dropped eight 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-15 (.467) at the plate over the Bears’ last five 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)
-Junior Alaina Burkhart posted her first multi-hit game since March 17 Wednesday vs. Arkansas; Burkhart had just three hits in her previous 27 at-bats coming into the week
-Freshman Kirstin Cutter stopped an 0-for-15 slump at the plate with her second-inning single Wednesday vs. Arkansas
-Junior Ashley Knehans has a pair of two-hit games over MSU’s last three outings following a string of 16 straight contests without a multi-hit performance; she also posted three RBIs in two games vs. Illinois State last weekend after driving in just four runs in the Bears’ first 17 MVC games
-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 .226 (7-for-31) in 15 contests at Killian Stadium
-Junior infielder Jenna Schwark leads the club and ranks sixth in the MVC in overall batting (.336); she is tied for the team lead in hits (41), and tops on the squad with 17 walks and 58 total bases
-Schwark ranks as the toughest Valley player to strike-out this season, fanning just one time for every 17.4 at-bats; she has not struck-out in her last 11 games dating back to April 10, and has fanned just twice in 19 MVC games and only seven times overall in 2010
-Sophomore right-hander Natalie Rose’s two saves in conference play lead the MVC
Follow the Bears
Live stats for each of this weekend’s games will be available at the official home of Bears Softball on the Web, www.MissouriStateBears.com. A free live video stream of both dates will be available through Bears Live, MSU’s premium broadband video destination for exclusive live and on-demand streamed content.
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.
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 prior to Sunday’s series finale.
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 .336 with four homers, 16 runs driven in and a team-high 58 total bases. Another junior, Christa Gammon, has also been strong at the plate so far in 2010, entering the weekend with a .311 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 .258 with six steals. Hargrove has been strong both at the plate and behind it, posting a .253 batting average while starting all but two of MSU’s first 42 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 (6-9, 3.69 ERA), who has gone 5-4 with 47 strikeouts in 15 MVC outings, posting a 3.43 ERA. Senior Lauren McGinley (4-9, 4.84 ERA) has made 16 starts, completing five games, and sophomore Natalie Rose (4-10, 3.35 ERA, 2 saves) has a team-high 88 strikeouts in 100.1 innings of work.
Scouting the Sycamores
Picked ninth in the MVC’s preseason poll, Indiana State dropped its first seven Valley games and is still attempting to make up ground in the conference standings. The Sycamores are led by sophomore outfielder Alyssa Doyle, who paces the club with a .305 batting average and 19 runs scored. Sophomore catcher Bailey Wittenauer has a team-best 26 RBIs on the year to go along with four homers, while junior Stephanie Jonson and sophomore Lindsey Beisser have also hit four long balls apiece to share the team lead. In the circle, ISU’s senior right-hander Meagan McCurdy leads the way for the Sycamores with a 1.97 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 149.1 innings pitched.
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.
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.
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-15 (.467) since April 18. In those five 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.
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 13 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.
Six Bears have posted hit streaks of five games or more this season. Freshman Caitlin Chapin saw her career-long seven-game hit streak come to an end April 8 vs. Oklahoma State. The Ozark, Mo., prodcut hit .458 (11-for-24) with four home runs and 11 RBIs during the stretch that extended back to March 26.
Junior infielder Jenna Schwark also stretched her hit streak to seven games at the onset of the season before going hitless against Sam Houston State (Feb. 20). She just missed equaling her career-long streak of eight (2/20/09 through 3/7/09), which started at last year’s Sleep Inn Classic.
In addition to Chapin and Schwark, and Christa Gammon (six games), Madison Hargrove (six), Tyler Porter (six) and Alaina Burkhart (five) have also recorded hit streaks of at least five straight games in 2010.
Missouri State’s freshman quartet of Caitlin Chapin, Kirstin Cutter, Lauren Eisenreich and Madison Hargrove combined to go 19-of-41 (.463) in MSU’s four games from March 24-27. The group was especially effective in a doubleheader sweep of Evansville (March 27), going 7-for-14 with four RBIs in a 14-10, game-one win and 7-for-13 (.538) in a 6-2 victory in the nightcap.
Highlighted by their first-ever three-game sweep of Creighton (April 2-3), the Bears are 7-3 on the road in MVC play. Their seven conference road wins represents their top season total since 2006, when they went 9-1 in MVC road games for the year. The Bears’ five-game road win streak (March 27-April 3) in league play was also a program high over the last four seasons. MSU won its last nine Valley road games in 2006, after dropping its first match-up of the season at Wichita State.
The Bears turned in their most-productive two-game stretch ever March 17, scoring 29 runs and pounding six homers in a doubleheader sweep of IUPUI. In that two-game period alone, MSU more than doubled its season home run total and upped its team batting average from .240 to .276. MSU’s 17 runs scored in game two represented its highest single-game total since February 2007, when it defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff by a 20-4 score.
Gammon on the Go
Junior infielder Christa Gammon was red-hot at the plate in MSU’s four road games March 24-27, particularly during the Bears’ series at Evansville. She reached base in eight of nine at-bats, going 7-for-8 over MSU’s first two games with the Purple Aces. The Belleville, Ill., product had three hits in a 5-4 loss on March 26 before turning in a career-best 4-for-4 effort that included three runs driven-in, two doubles and a pair of steals in game one of a doubleheader the following day. Gammon reached base and scored in each of her five plate appearances in the 14-10 MSU win to register the highest single-game run total for a Bear since at least the 1997 season when the school began logging individual game highs.
Beware of the Mad Dog
Despite seeing her six-game hit streak come to an end vs. Rutgers (March 18), freshman catcher Madison Hargrove continues to make her presence felt both at the plate and behind it. She went 1-for-3, driving in the Bears’ lone run in a 3-1 setback at SIUE (March 9), before going 4-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored in three games at the Kansas Invitational (March 13-14). Hargrove’s fifth-inning single plated what would prove to be the deciding run in an 8-7 victory over the host Jayhawks (March 14). The Shawnee, Kan., product then registered the first mulit-hit game of her career in the nightcap, going 2-for-2 with a walk and a run scored in a 4-3 MSU loss.
Hargrove strung together another six-game streak (March 19-27) in which she went 8-for-19 (.421). Additionally, she has been one of the toughest catchers in the Valley to run on, nailing 10 would-be base-stealers on the season.
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.
At Home on the Range
Despite entering the Kansas Invitational with an all-time mark of just 17-70 against KU, the Bears posted their second straight victory over the Jayhawks with an 8-7 win in game one of the two clubs’ March 14 doubleheader. The Bears also posted a breakthrough offensive showing at Arrocha Ballpark for the second consecutive year. Last March, MSU pounded KU with 14-hit barrage in a 13-8 victory for its top hit and run totals of the year.
MVC Preseason Poll
The Missouri State softball team was picked to finish seventh in the 2010 Missouri Valley Conference coaches’ preseason poll. Three-time defending regular-season champion Creighton was the overwhelming favorite among coaches, gathering eight first-place votes and 97 points total. Southern Illinois garnered 85 total points to place second, followed by UNI (77) and Drake (71), which received one first-place vote. Illinois State (66) was picked fifth, while the Bears received 36 points, which was 11 points shy of Wichita State in the sixth spot. Bradley (33), Indiana State (21) and Evansville (17) rounded out the bottom third of the poll.