Tigers Close Road Trip at Evansville

8 years 2 months 1 week ago Tuesday, April 05 2011 Apr 5, 2011 Tuesday, April 05, 2011 4:03:00 PM CDT April 05, 2011 in Sports
Source: Steven Keers

COLUMBIA - The No. 16/12 Missouri softball team will close out their 10-game road trip with a stop in Evansville, Ind. on Wednesday, as they are set to take on the Evansville Purple Aces in a doubleheader. Game one begins at 4 p.m. CT, with the second game starting at approximately 6 p.m. CT.

-The Tigers fought to a split this past weekend at No. 17 Baylor. They dropped their first Big 12 conference game of the year on Saturday, losing a 3-2 heartbreaker to the Bears before bouncing back with a 6-0 win on Sunday. Baylor won with a walk off sacrifice fly on Saturday, overcoming an early 2-0 deficit to snap Chelsea Thomas' 13-game winning streak. Thomas came back on Sunday and threw a complete game shutout, her seventh of the season, while striking out 11.

-Missouri saw their 24-game winning streak come to an end this past Wednesday as they were upset in the second half of a doubleheader by North Texas, falling 9-2. The Tigers took game one by a 4-1 score behind a double, home run and three RBI by Ashley Fleming and 11 strikeouts by Chelsea Thomas, who improved to 13-2 on the year. North Texas scored nine runs and hit four home runs off Kristin Nottelmann in the second game, who suffered her first loss of the season. The nine runs allowed is the most allowed by Missouri this season.

-The Tigers broke the school record for most consecutive wins after sweeping Kansas two weeks ago to open Big 12 action. After starting the year 1-2, Mizzou has won 27 of their last 30 to improve to 28-5 on the year.

-The Tigers have 13 shutouts on the year, 12 of which came the month of March. They are walking just 1.10 batters per seven innings, the best in the conference. The staff's .173 opponent batting average is second amongst Big 12 teams. The team is second in the league in strikeouts per seven innings, as they average 9.03, and is third in the conference with a 1.34 earned run average.

-Half of Missouri's last 20 wins have come via mercy rule, as 10 of the team's last 20 victories have ended early In the month of March, the Tigers outscored their opponents 157-19. Mizzou averaged 6.83 runs a game last month after averaging 3.88 in the month of February and gave up 1.26 runs per game in March.

-Chelsea Thomas struck out double-digits for the 10th time this season on Sunday when she struck out 11 Baylor hitters. With a win and a loss during the weekend, her record stands at 14-3. Her ERA this season is best in the nation at 0.58, and she entered the week with the seventh best strikeouts per seven innings ratio at 11.3.

-Ashley Fleming continued her great 2011 campaign with her eighth home run of the year on Wednesday in game one at North Texas. The junior had nine home runs last season and now has 21 for her career - ninth most in school history. Five of her home runs this year have come in the last eight games. She leads the team with 11 doubles, 36 RBI and an .841 slugging percentage.

-Nicole Hudson smashed her sixth home run of the season in the top of the third in Sunday's game with Baylor, a three-run shot through the 25 mile per hour wind that hooked just fair around the foul pole. She's tied Catherine Lee for second most runs batted in on the team with 22. Last season as a freshman, Hudson hit 10 home runs and drove in 41.

-Last Sunday against Texas Tech, Princess Krebs became the first Tiger to hit two home runs in the same game since Rhea Taylor accomplished the feat last April against Iowa State. Krebs led off the fourth inning with a pinch hit solo shot to left field, and added a three run shot to dead center field in the fifth. Krebs had entered the game with no career home runs to her name.

-Catherine Lee's home run last Sunday was her fifth of the season, putting her just one shy of matching last year's total of six with right around half the season to go. She's slugging .603 on the season, second best on the team amongst regulars.

-Freshman Maddison Ruggeberg has surprised a lot of people this year, emerging as one of the best hitters on the team in her first year of action. Third on the team with a .373 batting average, Ruggeberg also has blasted four home runs and driven in 16 RBI. She's slugging .597 this season, third on the squad, and has struck out just eight times in 67 at bats.

Evansville has had a rough go of it so far this season, as they're just 7-25 on the year. They've lost eight of their last nine, with their lone win coming in an 8-5 win over Murray State last Wednesday. The Purple Aces were swept by Drake in a three-game series this past weekend. The Aces are led by former Mizzou assistant coach Mark Redburn, who is in his second season there.

The Purple Aces are hitting .238 on the year and have a team ERA of 6.37. Their top hitter is Jen Stahlhut, who is hitting a solid .355 with two home runs and 17 driven in. Amy Gartner, who is hitting .281, has four long balls and 18 RBI. Kendall Kautz and Emily Morris have gotten most of the action in the circle, as they've appeared 17 times apiece. Kautz is 3-7 with a 4.92 earned run average, while Morris stands at 2-6 with a 7.00 ERA. Taylor Perry (13 appearances) and Maggie Little (14 appearances) could also see action.

Missouri has never lost to Evansville, leading the all-time series by an 11-0 margin. Last year, the Tigers used a six-run fifth inning to run-rule the Aces by an 8-0 final.

Each game will feature live scoring and play-by-play through GameTracker. Links to GameTracker can be found on the softball schedule page at mutigers.com. Free audio will be available at www.gopurpleaces.com, and they will also provide a video stream for a fee of $6.95.

The Tigers finally return home to University Field this weekend, as they host No. 20 Texas A&M in a Big 12 series. Action starts on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT, with the series finale beginning at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

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.

The Missouri softball team has taken advantage of playing at home, as they currently hold the second longest active home winning streak in all of the NCAA with 28 straight victories. Here's a look at the five longest home streaks in the country.

1. Georgia - 37
2. Missouri - 28
3. Arizona State - 25
4. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi - 23
5. Alabama - 17

Playing at University Field has been a major advantage for the Tigers since head coach Ehren Earleywine took over in 2007. In 117 games played at home under Earleywine, the Tigers have won 100 of them for an .856 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. So far this year the Tigers are 13-0.

Junior Ashley Fleming has been one of the Tigers top hitters this year, and much of that is because she is so tough to strike out. This season, Fleming has struck out just eight times in 93 at bats while drawing 14 walks. From March 13 to April 2, she went 42 straight at bats without a strikeout, and has struck out only three times in her last 73 at bats.

Senior Rhea Taylor has rewritten the record books again, as she set a new school record for hits in a career and broke the Big 12's career stolen base mark this season. Taylor picked up three hits in a doubleheader against Drake, moving her within two of tying Mary Babb's 14 year old record of 262. At the Missouri Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament, Taylor moved ahead of Babb with six hits in four games. The record-breaking hit came in her final at-bat against SLU, as she roped a triple to right-center field to put herself on top of the record book once again.

She also went 5-for-5 in stolen bases at the Missouri Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament, tying her for the most stolen bases in Big 12 history. She broke Texas A&M's Sharonda McDonald mark of 153 stolen bases, who set the record in 2007, with a stolen base in the first inning against Arkansas on Wednesday, March 9.

Here's a look at what records she's tracking down this season:
-Batting Average: Already the all-time leader at Mizzou with a .412 career batting average, a record that is theoretically impossible for give relinquish before the end of the season (Jenna Marston is second all-time at .364, two others are tied for third all-time at .352), Taylor could also graduate as the Big 12 Conference's record holder as well. She currently holds that mark, ahead of former Husker Ali Viola, who hit .409 from 1996-98.

-Hits: Taylor is now fourth all-time amongst Big 12 hitters with 282 hits. If she matches her three season average of 82 hits a year, she would find herself tied with Norrelle Dickson of Oklahoma, the conference's all-time hits leader at 328.

-Runs: Entering the season as Missouri all-time runs leader and eighth in the conference, Taylor is expected to flirt with the Big 12's all-time record as well. Dickson, who played for OU from 2004-07 and also holds the league's hits record, is the current record holder at 234. Taylor has 210 for her career and is up to third all-time in the Big 12. If she matches her yearly average of 61 runs, she'll find herself ahead of Dickson with 244 career runs scored.

She's also nine total bases shy of jumping into the Big 12's all-time top-10. With 386 in her career, Taylor trails Kelly Osburn, former Baylor Bear, who is at 395. She's third all-time in the conference with 15 triples in her career.

The Missouri Tigers split a two-game set with No. 17 Baylor, as they lost the opening game by a 3-2 for their first conference loss of the season before coming back with a 6-0 win on Sunday.

In game on, the Tigers couldn't hang on to an early 2-0 advantage, as the Bears rallied back for the win. In a battle of redshirt sophomores, Baylor's Whitney Canion (15-4) outlasted Mizzou's Chelsea Thomas (13-3), as Thomas lost her first game in 14 starts. Missouri scored twice in the first inning when Catherine Lee singled down the line and off the third base bag, scoring Marston and Fleming on the play.

Missouri came back to split with a 6-0 win on Sunday, backed by a complete game shutout by Thomas. The righty gave up just four hits, walked two and struck out 11. An unearned run in Missouri's favor broke the scoreless tie in the top of the third. With a runner on third, Maddison Ruggeberg hit a little dribbler back to the mound that Liz Paul couldn't field cleanly, allowing Marston to score and make it 1-0. After Ashley Fleming blooped a single into left, Nicole Hudson smoked a liner through the 25 mile per hour wind that hooked just fair around the foul pole for a three run home run, breaking the game wide open for the Tigers. A two out, two run double by Abby Vock in the top of the seventh added a little insurance.

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