Softball At Butler Wednesday, Mizzou This Weekend
► THIS WEEK IN BALL STATE SOFTBALL: The Ball State softball team will play its first game in the state of Indiana Wednesday, when it travels to Butler for a scheduled 3 pm first pitch at the Butler Softball Field ... The Cardinals will then head back south to Columbia, Mo., for the three-day Mizzou Tournament ... Ball State opens the event Friday with games versus North Dakota State (1 pm ET / Noon CT) and tournament host No. 18 Missouri (5:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm CT).
► FOLLOW THE ACTION: Ball State fans can follow the Cardinals this week with live audio and live stats available at BallStateSports.com ... While there will be no live audio for Wednesday game at Butler, Torey Fox will return to cover the Cardinals at the Mizzou Tournament ... Fans can also get regular updates by following the team on Twitter: @BallStateSB - Instagram: ballstatesb - Facebook: BallStateSoftball
► CARDINALS ALL-TIME: After posting a 2-5 record on its spring break trip through Alabama, the Ball State softball program enters Wednesday’s game at Butler with an 868-924-4 (.484) all-time record in 39-plus seasons of play ... Established as a varsity program in 1975, Ball State has won four Mid-American Conference regular season titles (2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013), two MAC Tournament championships (1998 and 2010) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice (1998 and 2010).
► HEAD COACH TYRA PERRY: A two-time Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year (2009 & 2013), Tyra Perry was named the eighth head coach in Ball State softball history Aug. 6, 2013 ... Perry enters Wednesday’s game at Butler with a 356-353-1 (.502) career record, including a 14-9 ledger so far in her first season at Ball State, including a 3-0 win over then-No. 3 Arizona State (March 2) ... Prior to coming to Ball State, Perry had six-year head coaching stints at both Western Kentucky (2008-13) and Birmingham-Southern (2002-07) ... In 2013, Perry guided WKU to the program’s first-ever NCAA Regional appearance and to a final ranking of 26th in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), the highest final ranking in program history ... The Lady Toppers also posted the program’s first 40-plus win season (43-18) under Perry’s tutelage in 2013, and earned its first SBC regular season title with a 20-3 league record.
► SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Ball State enters the week with a 14-9 overall record ... Sophomore center fielder Briana Evans leads the Ball State offense and the Mid-American Conference with a .453 batting average, while senior first baseman Taylor Rager is second on the squad and third in the MAC at .392 ... Ball State currently leads the league with a .333 team batting average and its 5.83 runs-per-game average is almost half a run better then Akron (5.44) in second ... In the circle, sophomore Kelsey Schifferdecker owns a 7-3 record and threw the Cardinals’ first complete game shutout of the season versus George Mason (Feb. 16) ... Schifferdecker has a 4.16 ERA over 67.1 innings of work and has struck out 32 batters ... Ball State’s pitching staff has a combined 4.67 ERA.
► THIS WEEK’S OPPONENTS
BUTLER: The Bulldogs enter Wednesday’s game with an 8-16 overall record after splitting a Tuesday doubleheader versus IUPUI, winning game one 4-3 and losing the second 7-2 ... Butler played six games at last weekend’s Under Armor Classic hosted by USF, posting wins over Penn (3-1), Iona (8-0/5 inn.) and Boston University (7-0) and losing to Long Island (4-3), Yale (4-2) and Massachusetts (8-7) ... Sarah Gronowski leads Butler’s regular starters with a .322 batting average and is second on the squad with eight runs scored ... Kristin Gutierrez has started 12 games in the circle for Butler, posting a 2.73 ERA over 69.1 innings of work ... She has 63 strikeouts on the year, compared to 27 walks ... Butler is batting .238 as a team, while holding opponents to a .256 average ... Ball State holds a 17-2 lead in the all-time series, including an 11-2 (5 inn.) win April 9, 2013 at the BSU Softball Complex which ended on a walk-off grand slam from senior infielder Lauren Schroeder.
NORTH DAKOTA STATE: The Bison enter the Mizzou Tournament with a 16-9 overall record including an 11-0 (5 inn.) win at Southeast Missouri State Tuesday ... At last weekend’s University of Illinois Tournament, NDSU scored wins over Saint Louis (7-3) and Illinois (7-4), before losing to Western Michigan (3-2) ... Cheyenne Garcia leads the Bison regulars with a .382 batting average and 20 runs scored, while ranking second on the squad with 21 RBI ... Krista Menke is NDSU’s ace in the circle, with a 1.94 ERA, an 11-3 record and two saves over 97.2 innings of work ... She had compiled 87 strikeouts to just 41 walks ... North Dakota State is batting .305 as a team, while holding opponents to a .240 average ... NDSU also features a familiar face on staff in Brynne Dordel, who is an assistant coach for the Bison ... Dordel was the graduate assistant pitching coach for the Cardinals the previous two seasons (2012 and 2013) ... NDSU holds a 2-1 lead in the all-time series, including a 1-0 win in the latest meeting March 26, 2006.
NO. 18 MISSOURI: The Tigers, who are ranked 18th in the latest USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll, enter the week with a 16-7 overall record and are scheduled to host Illinois State in a Wednesday doubleheader ... Last weekend, the Tigers opened SEC play by going 1-2 at home versus then-No. 9 Kentucky ... Mizzou won the first game 7-2, before dropping the final two by scores of 3-2 and 8-7 (8 inn.) ... Taylor Gadbois leads the squad with a .473 batting average and 22 runs scored ... Emily Crane is second on the team, batting .419 with a team-high 26 RBI ... In the circle, Tori Finucane has a team-best 2.00 ERA and a 7-3 record over 66.2 innings of work ... She also has 50 strikeouts compared to just 23 walks ... Missouri is batting .307 as a team, while limiting opponents to a .241 average ... The Tigers hold a 6-1 edge in the all-time series, including a 3-2 victory in the latest meeting Feb. 17, 2012 in which Missouri was ranked sixth nationally.
UMKC: The Kangaroos enter the week with a 9-12 overall record and are slated to host Missouri State for a Wednesday twinbill ... At last weekend’s UMKC Invitational, the hosts posted a 1-3 record by topping Western Illinois 8-0 (6 inn.) in the opener, before dropping three games to Northern Colorado by scores of 6-5, 5-0 and 6-2 ... Cinda Ramos leads the team with a .404 batting average, while Bri Wyatt is second at .356 ... Katie Kelley is the ‘Roos’ top pitchers, with a 3.54 ERA and 4-4 record over 53.1 innings of work ... She has 40 strikeouts on the season, while issuing just 27 walks ... UMCK is batting .273 as a team, while allowing opponents to connect for a .298 rate of success ... The series between the Cardinals and the Kangaroos is currently tied at 1-1, with UMKC winning the latest meeting by a score of 3-2 Feb. 20, 2011.
► LEADING THE NATION: Jennifer Gilbert enters the week as the NCAA Division I active career leader in RBI (214), runs scored (186) and doubles (53) ... She is also second among active NCAA Division I players with 65 career home runs, trailing only Oklahoma junior Lauren Chamberlain who blasted four long balls last weekend to raise her career total to 66 ... Her .795 career slugging percentage is fourth among active NCAA Division I players, while her 633 career at bats are sixth.
► TYING THE CANADIAN RECORD: With her 65th career home run in Saturday’s game at No. 23 Auburn, Jennifer Gilbert tied the NCAA career home run record among Canadian-born players ... She currently shares the title of Canada’s top NCAA softball slugger with Jen Yee who racked up 65 career home runs while playing for Niagara (2006-07) and Georgia Tech (2009-10) ... Ironically, Gilbert and Yee are currently teammates on the Canadian Senior Women’s National Team and helped guide the squad to a silver medal at the VII Women’s Pan American Championship (Aug. 10-18) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
► RACKING UP THE AWARDS: The Ball State softball team continues to dominate the league’s weekly awards, picking up at least one honor in four of the six weeks of play this season, while sweeping the honors twice (Feb. 10 & March 3) ... Jennifer Gilbert has been named MAC West Division Player of the Week twice this season (Feb. 24 & March 3), while Kelsey Schifferdecker has picked up a pair of MAC West Division Pitcher of the Week honors (Feb. 10 & 17) ... Senior first baseman Taylor Rager earned player of the week accolades Feb. 10, while sophomore Nicole Steinbach garnered pitcher of the week March 3 ... Last season, the Cardinals had at least one MAC weekly award winner in 10 of its 12 weeks of play, including sweeping the awards five times.
► THE RAGER FACTOR: In addition to being the program’s record holder for career double plays turned at 57, Taylor Rager is also quickly climbing up BSU’s career offensive charts ... Based on the strength of her .392 batting average this season, Rager is currently fourth in program history with a .355 career batting average ... Her 153 career RBI are tied for second in BSU annals, while her 31 career home runs are third and her 50 career doubles are fourth ... In addition, Rager’s 50 career doubles are third among all active NCAA Division I players.
► WALK IT OUT: Taylor Rager enters the week ranked seventh in MAC history with 95 career walks, including seven this season ... In addition, senior third baseman Audrey Bickel is tied for 15th on the league’s career walks chart at 80, including eight in 2014 ... The only other active MAC players ranked in the top 20 on the league’s career walks chart are Ohio senior Raven King (84) and Miami senior Kayla Ledbetter (80).
► Ball State posted a 3-0 win at then-No. 3 Arizona State March 2, marking the highest-ranked opponent the Cardinals have defeated since a 2-1 victory at then-No. 3 Missouri March 19, 2010.
► Briana Evans led the Cardinals with a .421 (8-for-19) batting average over the team’s seven spring break games ... Of her eight hits, five were infield singles and one was a triple ... Evans currently leads MAC with a .453 batting average this season.
► Of Briana Evans’ 29 hits this season, 15 have either been infield or bunt singles ... Evans is also tied for fifth in the MAC with eight stolen bases this season.
► Junior left fielder Loren Cihlar remains the top base stealer in program history based on percentage, with a .933 (28-for-30) rate of success ... She is 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts this season, earning her first swipe of the year versus Virginia Tech (Feb. 16).
► After serving mainly as a pinch hitter/runner last season, sophomore Emily Dabkowski has stepped nicely into the starting role at second base for the Cardinals in 2014 ... She has reached base safely in 21 of Ball State’s 23 games and owns a team-best 10-game hitting streak starting versus No. 3 Arizona State (March 2) and ending following a single versus No. 23 Auburn (March 15).
► Emily Dabkowski drove in what proved to be the game-winning run versus No. 3 Arizona State (March 2) with a two-out RBI single through the left side in the top of the seventh inning ... She also showed a flair for the dramatic versus Murray State (Feb. 22), blasting an eighth inning walk-off two-run homer over the left-center field wall to give BSU the 5-3 victory.
► Audrey Bickel enters the week rank second on the squad and in the MAC with nine doubles this season ... Bickel’s previous career high for doubles in a season in also nine, which she recorded in both 2011 and 2012.
► Speaking of doubles, Taylor Rager enters the week ranked first in the MAC and second nationally with a 0.52 double-per-game average ... In 23 games, Rager has tallied 12 two-base hits ... Rager’s career-high for doubles in a season is 15 set last season.
► Of the Cardinals’ nine position starters, six are batting .352-or-better this season ... Eight different players have blasted at least one home run for Ball State this season, with Jennifer Gilbert leading the way with nine and Emily Dabkowski following at four.
► Eight of the nine players in Ball State’s projected lineup this week have at least one career home run, with seven of them going yard at least once this season.
► In 10 at bats this season, sophomore pitcher/outfielder Sammi Cowger has collected three doubles and two RBI ... In the circle, Cowger leads the squad and ranks seventh in the MAC with a .211 opponent’s batting average ... She also has a 1-1 record and a save ... Over 10.0 innings of work, Cowger has collected six strikeouts.
► Senior first baseman Lauren Schroeder blasted her fifth career home run to complete the walk-off, run rule victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Feb. 8) ... She added her sixth career home run versus No. 23 Auburn (March 15), which was her first career solo shot ... Of her six career home runs, three have been three-run blast, while another was a walk-off grand slam to cap last season’s run rule of Butler (April 9, 2013).
► Freshman pitcher Jocelyn Rivera turned in the best performance of her young career last Friday versus Alabama A&M, helping guide the Cardinals to a 12-0 (5 inn.) victory ... In picking up her first career complete game victory, Rivera chalked up a career-high seven strikeouts and did not issue a walk ... She limited the Lady Bulldogs to just five hits over 5.0 innings of work.
► In addition to leading the league with a .333 team batting average, the Cardinals have five players ranked in the top 10 individually ... Briana Evans is first in the MAC and 32nd in the country at .453 ... Taylor Rager third at .392, followed by Emily Dabkowski (6th at .372), Loren Cihlar (7th at .368) and Audrey Bickel (10th at .357).
► Ball State’s defense tallied five double plays over its seven spring break games, raising its season total to 11 ... The 11 double plays have the Cardinals ranked second in the league and 21st nationally with a 0.48 double plays-per-game average ... Last season, Ball State ranked fourth nationally with a 0.56 double plays per game average, turning 30 double plays in 54 games.
► Uniform Watch 2014: Ball State enters the week with a 6-1 record in its white uniform, a 7-5 mark in its black uniform, a 1-2 ledger in its grey uniform and a 0-1 mark in its red tops.