►THIS WEEK IN BALL STATE SOFTBALL: The Ball State softball team returns to the BSU Softball Complex for five straight home games, beginning Wednesday with a 4 p.m. non-conference first pitch versus in-state rival Indiana . . . The Cardinals host Eastern Michigan in a 1 p.m. doubleheader Friday, while Central Michigan visits Muncie for single games Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).
►FOLLOW LIVE: Ball State fans can follow the action this week with live stats for all games at the following link: http://ballstatesports.com/livestats . . . In addition, Sports Link Radio WCRD 91.3 FM will cover Wednesday's contest versus Indiana live over the air and online at: http://ballstatesports.com/liveevents.
►SPORTS LINK TV: For the first time in program history, the Ball State softball team will have several of its home games televised thanks to Ball State Sports Link . . . The first and only academic program in the nation where students are totally immersed in sports and electronic media, Ball State Sports Link will produce the April 20 doubleheader versus Eastern Michigan and both games of the Central Michigan series . . . The games will appear live on campus (Cardinal Vision 57) and can be watched free online at http://ballstatesports.com/liveevents . . . In addition, the games will be tape delayed on Comcast Indiana and Comcast Muncie 61 with the possibility of airing live locally and throughout the state depending on other scheduling factors.
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: After sweeping Sunday's doubleheader at Miami, the Ball State softball program upped its all-time record to 804-895-4 (.473) in 37-plus seasons of play . . . Established as a varsity program in 1975, Ball State has won two Mid-American Conference regular season titles (2009 and 2010), two MAC tournament championships (1998 and 2010) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice (1998 and 2010).
►HEAD COACH CRAIG NICHOLSON: The fastest coach in program history to eclipse the 100-win mark, Craig Nicholson picked up his 900th collegiate coaching victory versus Northern Colorado (March 11) . . . In his sixth season as Ball State's head coach, Nicholson has amassed a 191-142 (.574) record at BSU, including a 27-12 record so far in 2012 . . . Under his guidance, the program won its first-ever Mid-American Conference regular season championship in 2009 with the best league record in program history (18-3) and repeated the feat in 2010 . . . The 2010 squad, which set program records for wins in a season (43) and winning percentage in a season (.729), also captured just the second MAC Tournament title in program history to advance to the NCAA Tournament . . . Nicholson owns a 914-232 (.798) career coaching record including his 723-90 mark in 11 years at Central Arizona.
►THE FIRST TO 20: The first team from the Mid-American Conference to reach 20 wins this season, the Cardinals (6-2 MAC) are tied with Bowling Green (9-3 MAC) for the best winning-percentage in the MAC at .750 . . . BSU also owns the best overall record in the league at 27-12 (.692) . . . BSU entered the week ranked 36th in the nation among the 289 NCAA Division I programs with a .692 winning percentage.
►SCOUTING THE HOOSIERS: Indiana enters the week with a 21-20 (5-7 Big Ten) record after going 2-2 last week . . . IU scored a 3-0 midweek win over Indiana State, while dropping two of three in a league series at Penn State . . . Indiana won the first game 12-6, while losing the last two 5-2 and 9-4 . . . Amanda Wagner leads the Hoosier offense with a .349 batting average, 30 RBI and eight home runs. . . Jenna Abraham is second on the team with a .333 average and has scored a team-high 28 runs . . . Lisa Olson is the Hoosier's ace in the circle, with a 13-12 record and a 4.39 ERA . . . Olson has struck out 79 batters over 138.2 innings and has held opponents to a .308 batting average . . . Indiana holds a 37-29 advantage in the all-time series, including a 3-0 win in Bloomington last season (April 20) . . . In 2010, the Cardinals swept a doubleheader at the BSU Softball Complex by scores of 5-2 and 9-1 (April 14).
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: The Cardinals enter Wednesday's game with a 27-12 (6-2 MAC) overall record after Sunday's sweep of Miami . . . Senior shortstop Alison Mercado paces the Ball State offense with a .397 batting average, while senior catcher/designated player Amanda Montalto is second at .388 . . . As a team, the Cardinals are first in the league with a .316 batting average, including a MAC-best 44 home runs . . . On the mound, senior right-hander Audrey Workman has a 2.99 ERA and an 11-9 record over 135.0 innings of work, while classmate Kim Mazzapica is 16-3 in the circle with a 3.05 ERA over 124.0 innings . . . As a staff, the Cardinals enter the week with a 2.99 ERA, while limiting opposing hitters to a .253 batting average and just 111 earned runs in 260.0 innings of work . . . Combined, BSU has out-scored its opponents 251-149 this season.
►GOING, GOING, GONE: In addition to leading the Mid-American Conference, the Cardinals enter the week ranked 16th in the nation with a 1.13 home runs per game average . . . BSU's 44 home runs so far this season tie the previous school record for homers in a season set last year . . . Sophomore left fielder Jennifer Gilbert paces the MAC with 11 home runs this year, which ranks her 41st nationally based on her 0.28 per-game average . . . Amanda Montalto is second in the MAC with nine home runs and 82nd nationally at 0.23 long balls per game.
►DOUBLING UP: As impressive as the home run total is, the Cardinals are even better when it comes to two-base hits, entering the week ranked second in the nation with a 1.87 doubles per game average . . . Jennifer Gilbert leads the MAC and enters the week ranked first nationally with a 0.41 doubles-per-game average, while Amanda Montalto was second in the league and ninth nationally at 0.36 . . . BSU has collected 73 two-base hits so far in 2012, with the school record standing at 93 set in 2010.
►DON'T FORGET THE TRIPLES: Amanda Montalto and Jennifer Gilbert are tied for the team lead and rank second in the MAC with three triples apiece . . . BSU players have combined for 13 triples this year, including two from freshman second baseman Taylor Cox, and the team entered the week ranked ninth in the nation in triples per game (0.33).
►MONTALTO IN THE RANKINGS: Amanda Montalto enters the weekend as one of the greatest sluggers in MAC history . . . BSU's career leader in home runs (32) and doubles (52), she ranks second in both categories in MAC history . . . Akron's Kelli Metzger (1996-99) is the MAC's all-time home runs leader at 57, while Ohio's Jenn Morris (1996-99) is the league's all-time doubles leader with 55 . . . With six RBI in BSU's four games last week, Montalto also moved into second in league annals with her school-record 136 career RBI and trails only Metzger's total of 167 . . . Her 99 career walks are also second in both program and league history.
►"O CANADA": For the past three years, sophomore outfielder Jennifer Gilbert has played in numerous international competitions as part of the Canadian National Team Program . . . This past December, Gilbert (who was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) helped guide the Canadian Junior Women's National Team to a fifth-place showing at the ISF IX Junior Women's World Championship in Cape Town, South Africa (Dec. 6-17) . . . In the event, Gilbert hit .411 with 14 hits in 34 at bats, including a grand slam . . . Gilbert also played for the 2010 Canadian Junior Women's National Team and the 2009 Canadian Women's U16 National Team.
►HEATING UP: Over the last 19 games, Jennifer Gilbert has been the hottest hitter on the club with a .477 batting average . . . She has recorded 31 hits during the span, including 10 doubles, eight home runs and three triples . . . Her 30 runs scored, 24 RBI, 1.092 slugging percentage and .558 on base percentage are also a team-highs during the span.
►SCORING MACHINE: Jennifer Gilbert entered the week as the only player in the MAC and one of just 31 players nationally to average over a run per game this season . . . Through 39 games, Gilbert has scored 47 runs, 10 more than the next closest MAC player, for an 1.21 average to rank sixth nationally . . . She is also the league's RBI leader at 39 and ranks 33rd nationally at 1.00 RBI per game . . . Factoring out 11 RBI for her eight home runs (so the runs are not counted twice), Gilbert has been directly responsible for 75 of BSU's 251 runs this season, which equates to 29.9 percent of Ball State's scoring offense.
►THE STREAK IS ON: Freshman designated player/outfielder Hanne Stuedemann enters the week having reached base safely in each of the past 30 games, while Jennifer Gilbert is right behind at 22 games . . . Stuedemann's, who did not reach base in her first five collegiate games, streak includes reaching base on a hit in 22 games, by a walk six times and being hit by a pitch twice . . . Gilbert's career-long streak includes 18 games with a hit, three games with a walk and one game by being hit by a pitch.
►WALK THIS WAY: In addition to being the league's top hitting team, the Cardinals have also shown tremendous patience at the plate with a league-leading 153 walks . . . Entering the week, Miami and Central Michigan were tied for second in the league with 121 walks . . . Amanda Montalto ranks second in the MAC with 26 free passes, while sophomore third baseman Audrey Bickel is fifth (21) and Hanne Stuedemann is seventh (20).
►MAZZAPICA TOPS THE MAC: The Ball State senior right-hander Kim Mazzapica enters the week tied for the MAC lead with 16 wins . . . However, her 16-3 overall record and .842 winning percentage both lead the league.
►CARDINALS SHOWING THE GLOVE: With BSU ranking in the top 25 nationally in nearly every offensive category, including 22nd with a .316 team batting average, it's easy to forget about the Cardinals' top-notch defense . . . BSU enters the week ranked 42nd among the 289 NCAA Division I teams with a 0.968 fielding percentage . . . The Cardinals have also turned a MAC-best 25 double plays and rank second in the nation with a 0.64 double plays-per-game average.