April 8, 2014
|Western Illinois||Columbia, Mo.||Wed./3 p.m.||Twitter | Stats | Video (Mediacom)|
|Western Illinois||Columbia, Mo.||Wed./5 p.m.||Twitter | Stats | Video (Mediacom) | KTGR|
TIGER TALES - No. 16 Mizzou Softball (27-10, 6-6 SEC) won its second-straight Southeastern Conference series, this time on the road with two victories (6-0, 8-1) at Mississippi State. The Tigers recorded 14 hits in the opening win of the series, a 6-0 shutout on Friday, April 4. The hot night at the plate amounted to Mizzou's fourth-best hit total of the season.
Mizzou welcomes Western Illinois to University Field on Wednesday, April 9, for a doubleheader (3 p.m. and 5 p.m. starts) with live television coverage on Mediacom's MC22 channel. Head coach Ehren Earleywine's squad won last season's DH meeting in Macomb, Ill., with 10-5 and 12-4 (6) scores (May 1, 2013). Mizzou racked up 31 hits over the two victories, including an outstanding 19 hits in the Game Two win, which ranks as the third-highest hit total in program history.
The Tigers were powered by recently named SEC Pitcher of the Week Tori Finucane, who shut down the Bulldogs with an impressive 16 strikeouts over 14.0 innings of work. The freshman pitcher posted a 2-0 record in her two starts with one run allowed. She powered past her previous career-high of nine strikeouts, which she had accomplished three times this season, for 12 strikeouts in the 6-0 shutout on April 4. Her 12 strikeouts were the most for a Mizzou pitcher since April 19, 2013 (Chelsea Thomas at LSU, 13).
A Mizzou-MSU doubleheader was scheduled on Saturday, April 5, to avoid forecasted inclement weather on Sunday, April 6, and Mizzou yielded the initial game to MSU, 9-3. The Tigers rebounded behind the arm of Finucane, who scattered nine hits to allow the one run of the 8-1. Junior IF Corrin Genovese posted her third 2-for-4 performance of the series, recording three RBI with one run scored.
Genovese was just one of the top performers of Mizzou's trip to Starkville, Miss. Freshman IF/OF Kelli Schkade hit her first collegiate home run in the 8-1 victory on April 5, adding to a double and triple during the series (in the first and second games, respectively. Schkade batted 4-for-6 (.667) overall vs. MSU. Junior 3B/C Angela Randazzo and redshirt sophomore OF Taylor Gadbois were also solid at the plate, hitting 5-for-10 (.500) and 5-for-12 (.417), respectively.
Mizzou picked up its first Southeastern Conference series win of the season in impressive fashion, defeating No. 13 Georgia in two out of three games (March 28-30) at University Field. A home run barrage in the third inning, four total, helped the Tigers down the Bulldogs, 8-6, to open the series on March 28. One home run was the difference on March 29, with senior OF Mackenzie Sykes blasting a walk-off, three-run shot in the bottom of the seventh for a 6-3 victory.
All good things must come to an end. During her 29-game hitting streak that ended last Sunday, redshirt sophomore OF Taylor Gadbois batted .485, going 49-for-101, with 27 of her 30 stolen bases recorded during the 29-game stretch. Gadbois had 15 multi-hit games during the streak.
Freshman 3B/2B Natalie Fleming's first career home run in the second game of the Illinois State doubleheader sweep (March 19) was normal. The shot was a deeply driven fly to left field. Her second home run that came in Mizzou's 9-6 win over Illinois on March 26 was not typical, as it was an inside-the-park long ball for the Tiger. Fleming put a sharp, dropping liner into right field, forcing a diving try by Illinois. The ball rolled to the fence and Fleming was home free.
Earleywine is in his eighth season leading Mizzou and 11th season as a head softball coach with a major milestone within reach. The former Georgia Tech head coach (2004-06) went 146-55 in Atlanta before returning to his home state to lead the Tigers, winning 353 games to run his career total to 499.
THE OPPOSITION - WESTERN ILLINOIS- Western Illinois (18-14-1) is powered by a standout performer in shortstop/outfielder Sammy Marshall, who leads the nation with her .522 batting average. Marshall also has an exemplary record of base stealing, going 27-33 in steal attempts. She is also WIU's team-leader with seven home runs.
Four other WIU players currently bat better than .300 from the plate. Teagen Walsh leads the group with a stout .398 average and leads the team with 36 RBI. Megg Kelly (.361), Karissa Kouchis (.359) and Briana Williams (.340) round out the foursome.
The Leathernecks are 3-7 in away games this season, as well as 0-3 vs. ranked teams in 2014.
Western Illinois has three pitchers who have recorded the majority of its innings in the circle. Kayla Kirkpatrick leads the way with 70.2 innings pitched for a 3.96 ERA and 6-3 record. Kacyee Hart (4.40 ERA) and Hailey Bickford (5.15 ERA) have tossed 62.0 and 68.0 innings, respectively.
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP TICKETS- Tiger fans! Tickets for the 2014 Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament (May 7-10) in Columbia, S.C., are on sale through host school, South Carolina.
On sale are all-session booklets covering the four-day tournament. Reserved chairback seats are $60 per all-session booklet, while standing-room only passes are $40. Broken down by session, each ticket covers Wednesday's opening-round games, the midday and evening quarterfinal sessions on Thursday, Friday's semifinals and Saturday's finals.
Fans may purchase tickets online at gamecocksonline.com/tickets, or by calling the South Carolina Athletic Ticket Office at 1-800-4SC-FANS (1-800-472-3267).
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