Bears Open MVC Tournament Thursday Versus UNI
May 7, 2014
The Last Meeting
April 19, 2014
Cedar Falls, Iowa
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.
EXTENDING HER LEGACY
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.
STEALING TO APPLAUSE
KNOCKING AT THE DOOR
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.
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.
The only other Bear to have three doubles in a game was Staci Wattie against Maryland on March 24, 2000.
TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM
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.
SWEEPING THROUGH TEXAS
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.
HOT IN TEXAS IN FEBRUARY
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.
BREAKING THE ICE
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.
WAITING IN THE WINGS