No. 8 Softball Faces Off With No. 14 Huskers

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MUTIGERS.COM

MUTIGERS.COM

April 21, 2011

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LEADING OFF
-The Tigers continue Big 12 action this weekend with another two-game set against a nationally-ranked opponent.  Mizzou will take on No. 14 Nebraska, beginning Friday at 6 p.m. CT and concluding on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT.

-Missouri's last five weekend series have been against opponents who are in the top-20.  The Tigers are 9-1 in those games.

-With their doubleheader sweep over SLU on Wednesday, Missouri now has their second 10+ game winning streak of the year.  The Tigers won 24 straight, a new school record, dating from February 26 through March 30.

-Missouri moved up a spot in each of the polls this week, jumping from 14th to 13th in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 rankings and from ninth to eighth according to USA Softball/ESPN.com.

-Missouri is now fifth in the latest RPI poll, released on Wednesday.  Missouri is 16-4 this year against team's in the top-50 in RPI.

-Mizzou took two from Saint Louis in a midweek doubleheader this past Wednesday.  The Tigers won game one by a 7-4 final before winning 5-1 in the finale.  Lindsey Muller got the win in game one, throwing two innings of relief, while Ashley Fleming registered the save.  Marla Schweisberger led the way with three runs batted in.  In the second game, Kristin Nottelmann went the distance, working through six walks and six hits as she struck out eight in her 13th win of the season.  Ashley Fleming and Nicole Hudson each hit their 10th home run of the season.

-Nicole Hudson has registered a hit in six straight games, matching a career high for her.  Her six game hitting streak has raised her average from .253 to .307 for the year.  During her streak she's hitting .522 (12-for-23) with five runs, two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI.

-This year's team has jumped into the top-10 in five stat categories.  With 47 home runs on the season, the 2011 squad is fifth all-time in program history.  Last year's team hit 62, the third most in a single season.  They've also drawn the eighth-most walks in a year at Mizzou with 159 so far this season.  The 2010 squad set a new school record with 247 walks.  The pitching staff has recorded 363 strikeouts this season, tied for sixth-most by a Missouri squad.  The 2004 team struck out 430, the most in program history.  The 2011 team is now 10th all-time with 229 runs batted in and tied for 10th with 66 doubles.

-The Tigers swept an exciting two-game set over then-No. 14 Oklahoma this past weekend, taking the first game by a 3-2 final in nine inning on a dramatic walkoff by an unlikely hero in Abby Vock before taking the finale 1-0 in 11 innings.  Nicole Hudson singled in Vock in the bottom of the 11th on Sunday, ending the three hour and 13 minute marathon game.  Chelsea Thomas threw all 20 innings over the course of the weekend, allowing just one earned run and striking out 34 - 17 in each game.

-Going against one of the top pitcher's in the country in Keilani Ricketts, Hudson had a huge weekend, hitting .500 off the Sooner ace.  She went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI in game one before going 3-for-6 with the game winning RBI in the finale.  She would go on to be named Big 12 Player of the Week.

-Princess Krebs earned Sunday's start in left field, which proved to be a good move.  The sophomore started the day with a sacrifice bunt and then rallied off three straight singles, finishing the day 3-for-4 at the plate.

-Abby Vock was the most unlikely of heroes on Saturday, as her third home run of the year, a walkoff in the bottom of the ninht inning, gave the Tigers the 3-2 victory.  Her three home runs this season is the most she has ever hit in one season, as she now has five for her career.

-With her 44 strikeouts last week, Chelsea Thomas is now tied for sixth for most strikeouts in a single season at Missouri with 241.  She's only 46 strikeouts away from breaking the record, set by Erin Kalka in 2004 with 286.  Thomas is now seventh all-time at Missouri for career strikeouts with 480.

-After starting the year in an 0-for-20 slump at the plate, Lisa Simmons has emerged as of late and has been one of the best bats in the lineup for the Tigers. Since that start, Simmons is 12-for-34, good enough for a .353 batting average over that span. She's scored nine runs for the team and a career-best 12 RBI, while also providing spectacular defense in the outfield.

-The Tigers have 15 shutouts on the year, 12 of which came the month of March. They are walking just 1.55 batters per seven innings, the best in the conference. The staff's .178 opponent batting average is second amongst Big 12 teams. The team is second in the league in strikeouts per seven innings, as they average 9.20, and is second in the conference with a 1.32 earned run average. The team's 0.94 ERA during conference play is the best in the league.

SCOUTING NEBRASKA
The Huskers enter the weekend ranked No. 18 by the NFCA/USA Today poll and No. 14 by ESPN.com/USA Softball.  They are currently 31-8 on the season and 3-5 in Big 12 play.  

Offensively, Nebraska is third in the league with a .326 team batting average, though they are hitting just .218 against Big 12 foes this season.  Freshman catcher Taylor Edwards has the third highest average in the conference at .412, and has hit the second most home runs in the league with 15.  Her 54 runs batted in are third-most amongst Big 12 competitors.

Led by ace Ashley Hagemann, Nebraska has a team ERA of 2.07 this year.  Hagemann has started in 24 of the team's 39 games, and has compiled a 22-7 record to go with a 1.90 ERA.  She has 234 strikeouts to 74 walks, and opponents are batting .181 off her.

Missouri and Nebraska split last season's series in Lincoln, with the Huskers taking game one 5-2 before Missouri took the finale, 5-0.  Nebraska is 49-28 all-time against the Tigers.  The teams are 4-4 against each other since Ehren Earleywine took over as Missouri head coach in 2007.

FOLLOW LIVE
Live stats and play-by-play will be available via GameTracker, found on the Softball schedule page at mutigers.com.  Fans can also follow @MIZLive on Twitter to get updates.  Nebraska will be providing free audio and video at www.huskers.com.

WHAT'S NEXT?
Missouri takes on the Nebraska Cornhuskers for the last time in the Big 12 this weekend.  Due to Easter Sunday, the first game will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, with game two being played at 4 p.m. Saturday.

FOLLOW MIZZOU SOFTBALL ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
Tiger softball fans can follow along with the season through many of the program's social media options. On Twitter, Mizzou fans can follow the entire athletic department at twitter.com/mutigersdotcom. Assistant Coach Pete D'Amour is also on Twitter at twitter.com/MizzouSBcoach. On Facebook, fans can search "University of Missouri Softball Team" to track down the team's official page.

MIZZOU'S HOME WINNING STREAK LONGEST IN NATION
Missouri's dramatic two-game sweep over Oklahoma last weekend was not only big for the Big 12 standings, but it also kept the nation's longest home winning streak alive, as the Tigers pushed that streak to 32 straight games dating back to last season.  Here's a look at the top-five active home winning streaks in Division I softball.

1.    Missouri - 32
2.    Hofstra - 22
3.    Alabama - 20
4.    Texas A&M - 19
5.    Tulsa - 18

Playing at University Field has been a major advantage for the Tigers since head coach Ehren Earleywine took over in 2007. In 121 games played at home under Earleywine, the Tigers have won 104 of them for an .860 winning percentage on their home field. Of their 17 losses, 13 of them came in two combined seasons. In Earleywine's first year the Tigers went 17-7 at home, and in 2009 they went 17-6. In 2008, Mizzou finished 22-1 at home while last year they went 31-3, winning their last 15 home games of the season. So far this year the Tigers are 17-0.

TIGERS DROP SLU IN DOUBLEHEADER
The No. 8 Missouri softball team pushed their record to 37-5 after winning their ninth and 10th consecutive games on Wednesday, as they took down Saint Louis with victories of 7-4 and 5-1.

Missouri used three pitchers in game one, with Lindsey Muller getting the win after two shutout innings of relief to improve to 2-0 on the year.  Ashley Fleming tossed two scoreless innings herself for her second save.  Marla Schweisberger drove in three runs to lead the Missouri offense.  In game two, Kristin Nottelmann registered her 13th win of the year with a complete game effort.  Nicole Hudson and Ashley Fleming led the offense, as each hit their 10th home run of the season.

HUDSON, THOMAS SWEEP BIG 12 WEEKLY HONORS
For the first time since May 11, 2004, the Missouri softball team has swept the Big 12 Player and Pitcher of the Week honors, as announced Tuesday afternoon by the league office.  Sophomore Nicole Hudson has been named Player of the Week for the first time in her career, while redshirt sophomore Chelsea Thomas has been dubbed as the league's Pitcher of the Week for the second straight week, fourth time this season and sixth time in her career.

Hudson helped lead the offense to a sweep over then-No. 14 Oklahoma this past weekend, as she went 5-for-10 against Sooner ace Keilani Ricketts, while doubling once and driving home two RBI.  After going 2-for-4 with an RBI on Saturday, Hudson drove in the lone run on Sunday, driving home the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the 11th inning.  She opened the week by going 3-for-4 with a three run home run at Northern Iowa, tying her for the team lead with nine homers this season.  After batting .571 for the week, Hudson raised her season batting average from .258 to .299.

Already named Big 12 Pitcher of the Week more times than any Tiger in program history, Thomas now becomes the first Missouri player to ever win a Big 12 weekly award in two consecutive weeks.  The redshirt sophomore pushed her record to 20-3 with a perfect 3-0 week in which she allowed just two earned runs while striking out an astounding 44 batters while walking only four in 24.0 innings pitched.  

POWER SURGE
With 49 home runs through 42 games, the Tigers have shown a major increase in power compared to last season. In 2010, the Tigers had 33 home runs and 221 RBI through the first 42 games. Ashley Fleming, Nicole Hudson and Marla Schweisberger led the team with five home runs each at that point and 11 Tigers in all had home runs. This year, 14 Tigers have hit long balls and they've driven in 229 as a team. Two Tigers lead the way with 10 homers this year. Fleming, who now has a new career high for home runs in a season, and Hudson, who also hit 10 her freshman year. The squad is slugging .049 points higher at this point with a .503 slugging percentage compared to .454 last year through 42 games. Missouri finished with 62 home runs in 64 games last season. They are on pace to match those 62 home runs in just 53 regular season games this year.


 

 

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