Bears Open MVC Tournament Thursday Versus UNI
Heather Duckworth was an All-Tournament selection as a freshman when the Bears won the title in 2011
Heather Duckworth was an All-Tournament selection as a freshman when the Bears won the title in 2011

May 7, 2014

MVC Tournament Notes | Tournament Central | Watch Live | Live Stats

The Last Meeting
Missouri State6
Northern Iowa5
April 19, 2014
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Struemph Racks Up Career High 11 Strikeouts in Bears' Win at UNI
Freshman pitcher Erin Struemph racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts and the Missouri State softball team (24-20, 7-11) salvaged the series finale, 6-5, at UNI (24-15, 11-8) in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Saturday.

The Missouri State softball team (27-26, 10-16) heads to its 10th consecutive MVC Tournament as the eight-seed and will face UNI (28-19, 14-12) in the opening game on Thursday at 11:05 a.m. The winner of that game in Normal, Ill., will face Bradley (24-30, 15-12) at 4:05 p.m. Thursday.

Missouri State has by far the most wins in history of the MVC Tournament at 68. Head coach Holly Hesse is tied with Illinois State's Melinda Fischer for the most wins by a head coach at 46. All-time, the Bears are 9-2 against UNI in the tournament and have a winning record in the tournament against every MVC school except Loyola (never met before).

The Bears rallied for two runs in the top of the seventh inning in the regular season finale at Evansville on Sunday to break a 1-1 tie. The win was needed to advance to the MVC Tournament. All four MSU seniors reached base in that pivotal seventh inning. Bethany Sullinger made her 45th RBI of the season the most meaningful with the game-winning sacrifice fly.

Sullinger moved within one RBI of the single season school record with that sac fly on Sunday. She drove in five runs on the weekend in Evansville, including her second four-RBI performance of the season. All four RBI on Saturday came with two outs to increase her league-leading total to 28 two-out runs batted in.



As a team, MSU plated 15 of its 18 runs on the weekend with two outs. Senior Heather Duckworth drove in four of those runs with two-outs on Saturday, her 22nd two-out RBI of the year, second in the MVC.

Kerri Cunningham placed her name outright in the MSU record book with a pair of stolen bases on Sunday. Her 25 steals this season is the second-most in a season in school history. She also finished the regular season as the Bears overall (.338) and conference (.400) leading hitter.

Ashley Brentz finished second with a .331 overall average and .375 average during MVC play. She picked up her team-best 25th walk of the season on Saturday. It was the 76th base on balls of her career, tied for fifth in MSU history.

Stacia Boeckstiegel was hit by a pitch on Sunday for the fourth time this season. It was the 20th plunking of her career, three shy of the school record.

   - Freshman Erin Struemph ended the regular season with 147 strikeouts and was the only Valley pitcher with more strikeouts than hits allowed (146) on the season.
   - Bethany Sullinger drove in her 45th run of the season with a sacrifice fly on Sunday. She is one RBI shy of tying the school record for a single season.
   - Sullinger leads the MVC with 28 two-out RBI. Teammate Heather Duckworth has the second-best total at 22 with the two accounting for exactly half of the team's total for the year.
   - The Bears have a combined 103 extra-base hits this season (67 doubles, 15 triples, 21 home runs), the second-best total in a season since 1982 (120 extra-base hits in 2006 [70 2B, 16 3B, 34 HR]).
   - Junior Chelsea Jones hit her fifth sacrifice fly of the year on Sunday, good for 10th in the country and most in school history since 1990.
   - Senior second baseman Ashley Brentz drew her 76th career walk on Saturday, tied for fifth-most in MSU history.
   - Kerri Cunningham stole two bases on Sunday, giving her 25 for the year,the second-best single season in MSU history.

Head Coach Holly Hesse is second in all-time wins by an MVC coach with 673. With a 7-1 victory over South Dakota State on February 15, Hesse earned milestone win 650. She trails only current Illinois State coach Melinda Fischer (934 wins).

Sophomore Bethany Sullinger took over first base and the clean-up spot in the order after the first weekend of the season. Since then, she has burst into the MSU records books and blown away the competition in the Valley. With her sacrifice fly against Evansville on May 4, she has 45 RBI on the year, the second-best single season in school history and just one shy of tying the school record for a season.

Even more astonishing, of her 45 RBI, 28 have come with two outs. The next closest MVC player is teammate Heather Duckworth with 22 two-out RBI.

Senior Kerri Cunningham successfully stole her 24th and 25th bases of the year on May 4 at Evansville. The speedy centerfielder has cemented her name in the record books as her 25-steal total is the second-most steals in a season. Her 25 steals were only surpassed by Kate Madden's 37 in 1996.

Missouri State has picked up five weekly honors from the MVC this season, the most since 2006. Erin Struemph has earned the league's Newcomer of the Week honor twice, exactly one month apart (February 24 and March 24). Junior Chelsea Jones has been named MVC Pitcher of the Week twice (March 3 and March 17). Bethany Sullinger was the recipient of the league Player of the Week honor on February 17 after a stellar weekend in Arlington, Texas.

On May 1, Heather Duckworth became the 15th MSU recipient of the Capital One Academic All-District honor and first since Jenna Schwark in 2010.

Senior second baseman Ashley Brentz drew her 76th career walk at Evansville on May 3. She is tied for fifth all-time at MSU.

Fellow senior Heather Duckworth converted her 371st career assist at the hot corner on May 4 at Evansville. She needs just three more assists to move into the top-5 on the career list. Duckworth also has 35 career doubles, one short of the top-5 list.

Freshman pitcher Erin Struemph has been a tremendous addition to the Bears' pitching staff. She has 12 wins and is sixth in the MVC with a 3.20 ERA. She has completed nine of her 21 starts on the year, three of which have been shutouts, and has earned three saves.

Struemph struck out an MVC-best 11 in April 19th's win at UNI. Her season total of 147 strikeouts in second in the MVC, but she leads the league with 6.92 strikeouts per game. She is the only pitcher in the MVC with more strikeouts (147) than hits allowed (146).

She is third in the Valley in batting average against with two outs (.224), fifth in overall opponent's batting average (.251) and her batting average against with runners on base (.250) is fifth-best in the league. On the season, Struemph has struck out at least one batter in 33 of 40 outings, including three appearances of just 0.2 innings.

Bethany Sullinger's bases-clearing double in the seventh inning at Evansville on May 3 was the Bears' 103rd extra-base hit (67, 15, 21) of the season. It is the second-most total extra-base hits in a year since 1982, eclipsed only in 2006 when the Bears had 120 total extra-base hits (70, 16, 34).

Sullinger hit Missouri State's 15th triple of the year against Illinois State on April 26, the most since MSU hit 16 in 2006. She is tied with teammate Heather Duckworth atop the Valley with four triples. It is the most triples hit in a season by a player since Sara Cole had six in 2006.

Junior Chelsea Jones became just the second Bear since 1997 to hit three doubles in the same game when she accomplished the feat against UT Arlington on Feb. 14. She drove in a run with each of those doubles.

The only other Bear to have three doubles in a game was Staci Wattie against Maryland on March 24, 2000.

Missouri State topped its season total from 2013 (5) by hitting six triples at the Blues City Classic (Feb. 21-23). The Bears hit three triples against Alabama A&M (Feb. 21), the first three-triple game since April 2, 1998 versus Saint Louis. In the bottom of the third inning against the Bulldogs, Stacia Boeckstiegel and Heather Duckworth each tripled, the first time in three seasons (March 26, 2011) that two players tripled in the same inning.

Senior catcher Stacia Boeckstiegel was hit by a pitch against Central Michigan (Feb. 14), her first HBP this season. She was also hit on March 15 against Bradley, on March 29 versus SIU and again at Evansville on May 4. She has now been plunked 20 times in her three seasons and is three shy of tying the school record.

The Bears have clubbed 21 home runs on the year, led by Sullinger's six long balls. Boeckstiegel and Sullinger hit back-to-back dingers against Central Michigan.

Redshirt sophomore Erin Duewel accounted for the Bears' only home run of opening weekend when she hit the first of her career in the sixth inning of the second game at Georgia Tech (Feb. 8).

Elena Gambill was the only Bear to go deep at the Blues City Classic. She blasted a solo shot to left in the second inning against Lipscomb (Feb. 23).

Heather Duckworth hit her first home run of the year against SEMO. The three-run blast came on her birthday (March 1) and helped her set a career high with seven total bases in the game.

Missouri State clubbed four dingers in Stillwater and added two more at Central Arkansas (March 11). Boeckstegel went yard in the final game at Oklahoma State and again at UCA becoming the second player this year to homer in back-to-back games (Sullinger, Feb. 14, at UTA and vs. Central Michigan).

The Bears hit a pair of long balls in the series finale against Indiana State (April 13). Duewel went deep to pull the Bears within a run and Chelsea Jones put an insurance run on the board with her second dinger of the year. Jones also went yard in the finale at UNI (April 19) and again on April 22 versus Wichita State.

The Bears went down to Texas and swept all five games at the UTA Maverick Invitational (Feb. 14-16) for their first five-game winning streak since early in the 2012 season. MSU defeated 2013 MAC Champion and 2014 favorite Central Michigan and took two games each from host UT Arlington and South Dakota State.

Missouri State pitched back-to-back shutouts to claim the title in Arlington.

The Bears' winning streak continued in Southaven, Miss. extending to eight games, the longest win streak since 2011. MSU also pitched two more shutouts, making it four shutouts over the span of five games.

Sophomore first baseman Bethany Sullinger picked up MVC Player of the Week honors (Feb. 17) after a scorching weekend at the plate. In five games at the UTA Maverick Invitational, she hit .625 with a stellar 1.250 slugging percentage.

On Valentine's Day, Sullinger clubbed three home runs, two of which came against MAC favorite Central Michigan. She hit safely in all five games and had career bests in hits, runs scored and RBI. She also drew her first career walk and stole her first career base.

Beside Duewel's first career home run, MSU players have recorded firsts in their career already this season.

Freshman pitcher Erin Struemph picked up her first career strikeout in her first outing, ending the sixth inning with a punch out to strand two Yellow Jackets on base (Feb. 8). In game two against Georgia Tech (Feb. 8), she earned her first career victory while striking out six over four innings of work. Then in Texas, Struemph pitched her first complete game with a win over Central Michigan (Feb. 14). As an encore, she tossed her first career shutout with a 3-0 win over UTA in the championship game (Feb. 16). On February 21, Struemph earned her first career save over Morehead State with 0.2 innings of hitless relief to strand an inherited runner.

Fellow freshman Madison Jones picked up her first career hit, a solid single through the right side, during game two at Georgia Tech (Feb. 8). Her first multi-hit game came in the opener of the UTA Maverick Invitational, a 3-for-3 day against the host team (Feb. 14).

Elena Gambill, got in on the action in Texas. In game two of the UTA Maverick Invitational, Gambill registered her first career hit, a double to the left-center field wall against Central Michigan (Feb. 14). Gambill upped her slugging percentage on her next hit, a home run against Liscomb (Feb. 23).

Allie Alvstad drove in her first run with an RBI groundout against Alabama A&M (Feb. 21). She recorded her first hit with an RBI single to right against Bradley (March 15).

Senior Ciara Flau made the most of her opportunity to start at Georgia Tech (Feb. 9). She led off the fifth inning against the Yellow Jackets and laced her first career double into the right field corner.

Head coach Holly Hesse has commitments from five players to join the 2015 squad. Joining the Bears for the 2014-15 academic year are Kaitlin Beason (Webb City, Mo.), Molly Fields (Breese, Ill.), Chelsea Thomas (McKinney, Texas), Erika Velasquez Zimmer (Coppell, Texas) and Hailee Vigneaux (Nixa, Mo.).

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