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Softball Travels to No. 16 Oklahoma State

MUTIGERS.COM
MUTIGERS.COM

MUTIGERS.COM

April 29, 2011

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LEADING OFF
-Missouri hits the road for one last regular season trip this weekend when they head south to Stillwater, Okla., to take on the No. 16 Oklahoma State Cowgirls.  The first game is on Saturday and will start at 2 p.m. CT, with Sunday’s finale kicking off at Noon.

-Mizzou increased their national-best home winning streak to 33 consecutive games on Wednesday in a 10-0 rout of SIU-Edwardsville.  Chelsea Thomas and Kristin Nottelmann combined for a five inning perfect game, the third perfect game for Mizzou this season and 10th in program history.  All of the Tigers’ 10 runs came in the first three innings, led by Jenna Marston’s three RBI and a pair driven in by Ashley Fleming.

-The Tigers saw their 10-game winning streak get snapped after falling to Nebraska in a 3-2 decision last Friday.  Missouri bounced back, winning 4-1 in the finale on Saturday to salvage the split.

-Holding firm at No. 8 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, Missouri jumped a spot to No. 12 in the NFCA/USA Today Top 25 rankings this week.  Missouri still sits in fifth in the latest RPI poll, released on Wednesday.  The Tigers are 15-5 this year against team’s in the top-50 in RPI.

-With her performance on Wednesday, Chelsea Thomas became just the seventh pitcher in school history to record 500 strikeouts.  She’s now just 17 strikeouts away from breaking the single season record at Missouri.  Currently with 270, she has the third-most in a season at Missouri, with Erin Kalka holding the record of 286 set in 2004.

-Abby Vock continued her career-year with yet another home run last weekend, delivering the first run of the game in Saturday’s 4-1 victory of the Cornhuskers.  Entering the season with just two career home runs and a .208 batting average, Vock is hitting an astounding .321 this year with four home runs and 10 RBI.  Her on base percentage is more than .100 points higher than her career best at .455, and her slugging percentage is almost .150 points higher than her best year ever at .506.  After having just eight hits last season, Vock has 26 this year.

-Rhea Taylor is just seven hits away from 300 in her career, which would make her just the second Big 12 player ever to reach that milestone.

-With her two RBI on Wednesday, Ashley Fleming has passed her career-high of 44 runs batted in, set last year during her sophomore season.  She currently has 46 on the season.  The total is just two shy from becoming one of the 10 highest RBI totals in a single season at MU.

-The Tigers have 16 shutouts on the year, 12 of which came the month of March. They are walking just 1.64 batters per seven innings, the best in the conference. The staff’s .171 opponent batting average is second amongst Big 12 teams. The team is second in the league in strikeouts per seven innings, as they average 9.37, and is second in the conference with a 1.33 earned run average. The team’s 1.12 ERA during conference play is the best in the league.

SCOUTING OKLAHOMA STATE
Oklahoma State is currently in third place in the Big 12, standing at 8-4 through 12 league games.  Overall, the Cowgirls are 37-11 on the season and 15-3 at home.  They’ve won five of their last six games, losing to Wichita State but sweeping two against Texas Tech and Baylor while picking up a victory over Oklahoma earlier this week.

Hitting .306 as a team, the Cowgirls are led by Alysia Hamilton and Mariah Gearhart offensively.  Hamilton leads the squad with a .395 batting average with five home runs and 31 driven in, while Gearhart is right behind her at .393, adding two homers, 13 RBI and 33 stolen bases in 35 attempts.  Julie Ward leads the team with 11 home runs, while Chelsea Garcia has 10.  In conference play, the Cowgirls have posted a .260 batting average, led by Tamara Brown who sits at .353.

Kat Espinosa leads the pitching staff, as she’s 20-5 with a 2.33 on the season.  She’s appeared in 32 of the team’s 48 games and has 12 complete games in 20 starts.  She’s struck out 122 batters and walked 52 in 153.0 innings pitched.  Opponents are hitting .193 against her.  Teams have fared a bit better against Espinosa in Big 12 action, as she’s 5-3 with a 3.55 ERA.  She’s struck out 29 and walked 20 in 49.1 innings of Big 12 softball this year.

Oklahoma State holds a 56-37 record over the Tigers all-time.  Last year, the Cowgirls came to Columbia and swept Missouri, winning 8-3 and 1-0.  Mizzou got revenge in the Big 12 Championship, shutting out OSU by a 5-0 final in the first round of action.

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.  

WHAT’S NEXT?
Missouri closes out the regular season with a six game home stand, beginning on Wednesday, May 4 with a doubleheader against Western Illinois.  First pitch is at 3 p.m. CT at University Field.

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
With their quick 10-0 victory over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Wednesday, the Tigers pushed their home winning streak to 33 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 – 33
2.    Hofstra – 25
3.    Alabama – 20
4.    Texas A&M – 19
5.    South Dakota - 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 PERFECT IN WIN OVER SIUE
Pitchers Chelsea Thomas and Kristin Nottelmann combined for Missouri’s third perfect game of the season, while the Tiger offense belted out 10 runs on nine hits to make quick work of SIU-Edwardsville on Wednesday afternoon.  The game was the fastest of the year for the Tigers, lasting just one hour and two minutes.

Missouri tacked on two runs in the first inning on a two-run double by Ashley Fleming, scoring Rhea Taylor and Nicole Hudson.  In the second, Missouri loaded the bases with one out after a walk to Megan Christopher, a base hit by Abby Vock and a fielder’s choice to Taylor, as the pitcher fielded a grounder back to the circle and unsuccessfully tried to throw Brianna Corwin out at third, who was running for Christopher.  Jenna Marston then delivered a base hit, bring home Corwin and Vock.  A groundout by Hudson brought home the third run of the inning.

The Tigers put their first three batters on base in the third inning, guiding them to a five run frame. Kathryn Poet delivered a pinch hit single to score Lee.  Princess Krebs followed and picked up an RBI on a ground out, plating Schweisberger on the play.  With runners on second and third, Taylor Duplechain hit a grounder to the first baseman, who threw home to get the runner trying to score.  However, the ball ricocheted off the catcher’s glove and got away, bringing home two more Tiger runners.  Duplechain would score on a base hit by Marston, her third run batted in on the afternoon.

Nottelmann tossed the last inning for the Tigers, striking out two of the three hitters she faced.  Marston led all Tiger hitters with three runs batted in, while Fleming added a pair.  Schweisberger and Marston were tops on the team with two hits apiece.