Bears to Meet Bulldogs with MVC Championship on the Line



No. 5 Missouri State Bears (28-23, 13-11 MVC)

at State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Softball Championship

Championship Game vs. No. 2 Drake Bulldogs (34-20, 19-6 MVC) - Saturday, May 14 @ 12:07 p.m.Site: Killian Stadium (1,200) Location: Springfield, Mo.Radio: KBFL FM 99.9 TV: MVC TV-Fox Sports Midwest (Championship Game)Live Stats: Tickets:  (Tickets available at Killian Softball Stadium ticket window). All-Session Passes $20 adults, $10 students;  Single-day passes $10 adults, $5 students.

Tournament Overview

Missouri State advanced to the title game of the State Farm MVC Softball Championship for the 10th time with Friday's victory over regular-season champion Illinois State. The Bears will face the No. 2 seed Drake Bulldogs Saturday at noon with the MVC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.

Saturday's game will be broadcast live on the MVC TV Network, including locally on Fox Sports Midwest, with R.C. McBride and Laura Leonard calling the action. Additionally, Meyer Communications will carry the game live on KBFL 99.9 FM.


Tournament Quick Hits

-Missouri State advanced to the final game of the Championship for the 10th time in 28 appearances with its 4-2 win over regular-season champ Illinois State in the semifinal round on Friday

-The Bears are 66-40 all-time at the MVC tourney; they enter Saturday's contest 5-4 in title games, but 0-2 in deciding games played on their home field

-Saturday's tilt will be the third meeting for Drake and Missouri State in an MVC final; the Bulldogs have taken two of the three, including the last such meeting three years ago in Carbondale, as well as the very first championship game matchup for the two schools, played 17 years ago to the date just down the street at Cooper Sports Complex

-The Bears' and Bulldogs' 1994 MVC title game matchup remains the longest in Missouri State history, with Drake claiming the crown, 3-2, in 14 innings  

-Missouri State's lone championship win over Drake came in Cedar Falls in 1997, when the Bears became the first Valley team to win the tournament title as the No. 5 seed

-Missouri State has amassed more wins (66) than any other Valley team at the MVC Championship; the Bears' five tourney titles are second only to Creighton's six championships over the 28-year history of the event

-In their four MVC Tournament experiences as host (including three games so far this year), the Bears are 15-6, including runner-up finishes in both 1984 and 1994; MSU has now advanced to at least the semifinal round in each of the four Championships is has hosted  

-Head coach Holly Hesse needs just three more victories to become the fourth coach in Valley history to reach the 600 career win plateau

-With her club's win over Illinois State Friday, Hesse equaled ISU's Melinda Fischer for the most tournament victories in the history of the event; Hesse's career total of 44 victories at the MVC Championship is higher than the total number of team wins in the tournament for every other Valley club except Illinois State

-Missouri State won its first game this season against a Valley foe that finished in the top three in the regular-season standings; the Bears are now 1-7 against the top three seeds into this year's tournament; the Bears went 10-4 against the other four clubs that qualified for the Championship

-With Friday's win over Illinois State, Natalie Rose improved to 6-3 with a 2.02 ERA in nine career appearances at the MVC Championship, with three of those victories coming via shutouts; this year, the junior is 3-0 with a miniscule 0.67 ERA and 24 strikeouts against just four walks in 21.0 innings

-Rose extended her streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 23.0 before the Redbirds tallied the first run of the Championship against the right-hander with two out in the fourth inning Friday

-Rose has appeared in all 22 MSU home games this season, posting a 10-8 record and 1.43 ERA

-Rose has established Missouri State season records for both starts and appearances during the Bears' tournament run, taking the circle as the Bears' starting pitcher for the 38th time in 2011 Friday; she surpassed the previous mark of 35, set by Kellie Becher in 1994, with her two starts Thursday, while her appearance Friday vs. Illinois State marked her 48th this year to eclipse Nora Cagwin's 14-year-old single-season record

-With her two victories Thursday, Rose became the first Bear pitcher to notch 20 wins in a season since Cagwin accomplished the feat in 1999; Rose took over sole possession of the fourth spot on MSU's single-season win chart and needs two more victories to catch Whitmarsh in third on the list

-Rose needs to toss five more innings to match Terri Whitmarsh's Bears record for innings-pitched in a season, which she established in 1985 with 263.0 innings

-Rose posted the 13th no-hitter in Missouri State history last Saturday against Evansville, marking just the second no-no this year in MVC play and the first overall in the Valley this season to go the full seven innings

-Rose led the MVC with five saves and 229 strikeouts during the regular season; the junior right-hander moved up to fourth on the Bears' all-time strikeout list Friday with 452 career punchouts

-Jenna Schwark extended her season-high hit streak to six games with her 1-for-3 performance vs. Bradley Thursday, but sustained what is believed to be a career-ending broken hand just prior to the Bears' quarterfinal game with UNI

-Ashley Knehans posted her sixth three-hit game of the season Friday to match a career high; the senior first baseman is leading MSU with a .444 average through the first three games of the tournament and also has a team-best .389 career mark at the Championship

-Knehans is batting .462 (6-for-13) on the season against left-handers and hit .343 (24-of-70) in MVC play to rank 14th in the conference

-Knehans and Tyler Porter both bring a tournament-high four hits into Saturday's game, while Porter's three runs scored is also a Championship best

-The Bears have now eliminated Illinois State from the tournament four times in the last six seasons (2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011) and are 8-6 overall mark against the Redbirds at the conference meet

-MSU is the fifth seed at the MVC Championship for the fifth time in the last 15 seasons and the seventh time overall, amassing a 15-11 record in that slot after its three wins over the last two days

-The Bears have more two (10) and three-time (3) all-tourney honorees than any other MVC club; with a total of 39 MVC all-tournament selections, the Bears are the second-most decorated team (to Creighton's 45 citations) in terms of total individual honors

-With wins over Bradley and UNI to kick-off the tournament, Missouri State took seven of eight games played this year against its first two opponents in the Championship; the Bears swept a three-game set from Bradley and took two of three from UNI during the regular season

-The Bears placed two players on the Valley's all-conference first team for the second straight year, as Rose and Kirstin Cutter earned MSU's 49th and 50th first-team honors on Wednesday








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