May 17, 2007
The Missouri softball team will make its 11th NCAA Midwest Regional appearance when they travel to Carbondale, Ill., for the three-day tournament beginning Friday, May 18. The Tigers are slated to begin the double-elimination tournament in a 4:30 p.m. (CT) game against host school Southern Illinois. Live stats and radio will be provided and can be found at www.mutigers.com.
One of four teams named to the Carbondale regional, the Tigers will also see action against 14th-seeded DePaul and Mississippi Valley State. DePaul and Mississippi Valley State will officially open bracket play with their 2 p.m. Friday afternoon contest in Charlotte West Stadium. Within the region, DePaul received the No. 1 seed, while Missouri was seeded No. 2, Southern Illinois, No. 3 and Mississippi Valley State, No. 4. For a complete Carbondale region bracket, please see page 16.
Over the course of the Missouri softball program's 33-year history, the Tigers have played each of the teams selected to compete in the Carbondale regional. Most recently, March 21, Missouri battled with SIU and suffered a 1-0 loss in Carbondale. The Tigers are 23-17 all-time against the three opponents combined and lead SIU, 17-13.
With a 15-6 record in NCAA Regional games, Missouri last claimed tournament honors in 1994 when the games were held in Lawrence, Kan. Missouri last competed at an NCAA Regional in 2005 when the Tigers hosted a field of four teams on University Field. Among the competitors was this year's first-game opponent, Southern Illinois.
This marks Missouri's fourth appearance in five seasons at an NCAA Regional. Now in the third year of play in which super regionals are included, the Tigers are looking to make their fourth WCWS appearance and first since 1994.
Missouri was the 37th of 64 teams selected to an NCAA Regional site and fifth of six Big 12 schools to advance in post-season play. Third-seeded Oklahoma, fourth-seeded Texas A&M, eighth-seeded Baylor, Texas and Nebraska will also make a run to become one of eight Women's College World Series (WCWS) competitors.
The field of 64 teams, divided between 16 regional sites, will be narrowed to 16 squads by Sunday, May 20. These 16 programs will play in one of eight super regional sites in a best of three series beginning Friday, May 25. From these super regional sites, the eight winners will advance to the 26th annual WCWS beginning Thursday, May 31 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., home to the Big 12 Softball Championships.
Scouting Southern Illinois
Making their fifth consecutive NCAA Regional appearance, the Salukis of Southern Illinois are 40-14 on the season and 10-3 at home in Charlotte West Stadium (home of this year's NCAA Regional). One of only 23 teams in the nation with an active streak of five or more consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, the Salukis are in their third ever 40+ win season.
Coming off of a runner-up finish at the Missouri Valley Conference Championships in which the Salukis suffered a 6-2 loss to Creighton, SIU's squad of 17 women have combined for a .288 average while their pitching staff owns a 1.67 ERA. The Salukis are led by Head Coach Kerri Blaylock, now in her eighth season at SIU.
Entering Friday's game with Missouri, second baseman Alicia Garza leads the Salukis with her .367 batting average. Garza has hit 13 doubles in her freshman campaign, scored 33 runs and has been credited with 33 RBI. Three Salukis are batting above .300 with freshman Katie Wilson leading the team with her .589 slugging percentage that includes 14 home runs and six doubles.
Senior Cassidy Scoggins has seen the most playing time in the circle for the Salukis and owns a 21-9 record that includes SIU's 1-0 victory over Missouri on March 21. Scoggins has thrown 213.1 innings of action including eight solo shutouts and three combined shutouts. Also to her name, the righty has forced 209 batters back to the dugout by way of strike out.
In the 27th meeting between Missouri and Southern Illinois, March 21, Scoggins held the Tigers hitless for the first and only time of the 2007 campaign. SIU's offense managed four hits off of Tiger junior Jen Bruck and scored their only run in the seventh inning on a double to left field by designated player Amanda Clifton.
A Familiar Start
Missouri's opening game of the 2007 NCAA Regional Tournament will pair the Tigers against a familiar opponent. Missouri and Southern Illinois have opened two prior regional tournaments, 1991 and 2005, against one another. In 1991, a year in which Missouri advanced to its second Women's College World Series, the Tigers bested SIU, 2-0. The two teams last opened regional action May 20, 2005 in Columbia when Southern Illinois won the game, 3-0. It should be noted...Missouri came back through the bracket and knocked off Southern Illinois, 9-0, to advance to the championship game of the 2005 regional tournament.
Seeded 14th nationally in this year's NCAA softball bracket, DePaul enters its 12th NCAA Regional appearance with a 41-11 record and 11-5 mark on the road. Coming off of a 1-1 showing at the Big East Championships, DePaul won game one against Seton Hall, 10-1 in five innings before falling to Notre Dame, 8-2. Among DePaul's 41 victories are six wins over top-25 ranked programs. The Blue Demons have taken on five Big 12 teams this season, earning wins over Nebraska and Texas but suffering losses to Baylor, Oklahoma and a Feb. 9 game against Nebraska at the Paradise Classic Tournament in Hawaii.
Led by Head Coach Eugene Lenti, now in his 26th season with the Blue Demons, five members of DePaul's squad are batting .300 or better with junior Sandy Vojik averaging .331. As a team, DePaul has hit 43 home runs and 51 doubles in 2007. Junior Marcy Wilus leads the team with 36 RBI, while Vojik leads the Blue Demons with 38 runs scored.
DePaul's four-woman pitching staff has combined for a 1.39 ERA. Senior Tracie Adix (18-2) and freshman Becca Hetteniak (18-6) split time in the circle but have combined for 309 strike outs and 15 shutouts.
The Last Time...
Missouri and DePaul last met in 2001. Playing two games in the Mizzou Round Robin, DePaul shutout Missouri 4-0 and 3-0, later blanking the Tigers, Feb. 24, 6-0 at home. However, it's Missouri that holds the 6-4 advantage in the all-time series.
In 1997, the year the Tiger softball team claimed its first and only Big 12 title, it was DePaul who put an end to the Missouri season. Playing in the school's sixth NCAA Midwest Regional tournament, DePaul blanked Missouri, 1-0, in Iowa City, Iowa, ending Missouri's run at a National Title.
Scouting Mississippi Valley Stat
Making their fourth consecutive NCAA Regional Tournament appearance are the Devilettes of Mississippi Valley State. Under the direction of Head Coach Lee Smith, the Devilettes claimed their fourth Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) title after besting Southern University, 4-1, in Baton Rouge, La., April 29.
Entering the tournament with a 29-26 record and 7-10 mark on the road, the Devilettes have a combined batting average of .266. Four members of the team, Nakelya Moragne (27), Erica Hardin (27), Shaina Mitchell (26) and Candy Shumpert (20) have scored 20 or more runs on the season with four credited with 20 or more RBI, Hardin (20), Aisha Ledet (27), Shumpert (20) and Christle Middleton (21).
Senior Nicole Henderson (1.95 ERA) and sophomore Nikki Stouder (2.49 ERA) are two key members of Mississippi Valley State's pitching staff. The combined staff owns a 2.78 ERA, but Henderson and Stouder have collected 24 of the Devilettes 29 wins this season. In 246 innings, the duo has stuck out 224 batters and allowed 78 earned runs. Holding opponents to a .266 average, Mississippi Valley State's defense has helped strand 346 opponents on base throughout the course of the season.
The Devilettes Did It
Missouri and Mississippi Valley State have met only three times in softball history. Most recently, the two teams squared off in the 2006 Tiger Invitational in Columbia, with Missouri outscoring the Devilettes, 19-1.
The more painful note is Mississippi Valley State's one victory. A win that forced Missouri out of the 2004 UCLA NCAA Regional tournament. Having already suffered one loss, 1-0, to Louisville on May 20, Missouri squared off with fourth-seeded Mississippi Valley State on May 21. In a game which Missouri led, 3-1 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, Devilette catcher Natasha McFadden crushed a two out, three run home run to win the game, 4-3. In her two previous at bats, McFadden struck out swinging and flew out to second base. Six members of Missouri's 2007 class remember that game all too well...and McFadden is back for her senior campaign.
If you haven't already noticed, Missouri has played each of its 2007 NCAA Regional opponents in at least one prior NCAA Regional tournament. The Tigers are 2-3 against Southern Illinois, DePaul and Mississippi Valley State in previous Regional meetings.