► THIS WEEK IN BALL STATE SOFTBALL: The Ball State softball team will host its Mid-American Conference travel partner this weekend when Miami visits the BSU Softball Complex for single games Saturday (2 pm) and Sunday (1 pm).
► FOLLOW THE ACTION: Ball State fans can follow this weekend’s action with live stats available at BallStateSports.com ... WCRD 91.3 FM continues its coverage this weekend, with Torey Fox, Jake Bartelson and Alexis Williams calling the action live from the BSU Softball Complex for WCRD and BallStateSports.com ... Fans can also get regular updates by following the team on Twitter: @BallStateSB - Instagram: ballstatesb - Facebook: BallStateSoftball
► CARDINALS ALL-TIME: The Ball State softball program enters the Miami series with an 881-931-4 (.486) 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).
► IN THE MAC PART 1: The Ball State softball team is 362-378-1 (.489) all-time in Mid-American Conference action ... The Cardinals best two seasons, based on winning percentage, came in 2009 and 2013 when BSU went 18-3 (.857) ... Ball State has claimed four (2009, 2010, 2012 & 2013) of the last five MAC Regular Season titles and won the 1998 and 2010 MAC Tournaments to earn the only two NCAA Regional berths in program history.
► IN THE MAC PART 2: From 2009 through last weekend’s MAC action, the Cardinals have proven to be one of the league’s premier programs by racking up a 90-25 (.783) record in league play ... Kent State has the second-best league record during the span at 75-41 (.647), while this weekend’s opponent Miami is third at 74-50 (.597).
► 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 the weekend series versus Miami with a 369-360-1 (.506) career record, including a 27-16 ledger so far in her first season at Ball State ... Perry’s biggest win to date with the Cardinals was a 3-0 victory at 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 Saturday’s game versus Miami with a 27-16 (7-3 MAC) record after posting a 4-2 mark last week ... The Cardinals split a Wednesday doubleheader at Indiana (L, 2-3 / W, 6-3) and a Friday twinbill versus MAC foe Akron (L, 2-4 / W, 15-2 in 5 inn.), before closing out the weekend with a pair of wins over league-leading Ohio Saturday (10-0 in 5 inn.) and Sunday (7-0) ... The Cardinals are the top batting team in the MAC with a .324 average, and also lead the league in runs scored (246), hits (382), doubles (75) and home runs (50) ... Senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert leads the league in nearly every offensive category entering the week, including batting average (.420), slugging percentage (.969), on base percentage (.513), runs scored (46), runs batted in (54), home runs (17) and total bases (127) ... Sophomore center fielder Briana Evans is second on the squad and third in the MAC with a .392 batting average ... In the circle, sophomore Kelsey Schifferdecker paces the squad with a 13-5 record and has three complete game shutouts on the year ... Schifferdecker also has a team-best 3.29 ERA over 121.1 innings of work and has struck out 62 batters.
► RPI UPDATE: Based on the strength of its 27-16 record entering the week, the Ball State softball team is ranked 72nd in the latest NCAA RPI rankings released April 21 ... The Cardinals have played 17 games versus top 100 teams and own a 6-11 record in those games ... BSU’s average RPI loss this season is 74 ... Kent State is the highest-ranked MAC team at 48th, followed by Ball State.
► SCOUTING MIAMI (RPI - 213): The RedHawks enter the weekend with an 18-23 overall record, including a 6-8 mark in MAC action ... Miami went 1-3 in league play last week, dropping both ends of a Friday doubleheader versus Ohio by scores of 1-0 (9 inn.) and 4-3 ... The RedHawks picked up a 3-0 win over Akron Saturday, while the Zips answered with a 3-0 win Sunday ... Taylor Shuey leads Miami with a .326 batting average and 23 runs scored ... Bree Lipscomb is the top slugger on the team with 18 doubles and eight home runs, she also has a team-best 35 RBI ... Paige Myers is Miami’s top pitcher, boasting an 8-7 record in the circle with a 2.89 ERA over 89.2 innings of work ... Myers is also holding opponents to a .261 average and has tallied 76 strikeouts on the year ... The RedHawks are batting .273 as a team, while opponents are slightly better at .274 ... Miami has been out-scored 171-to-162 this season ... Ball State holds a 49-42 lead in the all-time series versus Miami, including wins in six of the last nine meetings ... Last season, the RedHawks took the first game of an April 21 doubleheader by a score of 3-1, before the Cardinals rallied for a 6-0 win in the nightcap.
► LEADING THE NATION: Jennifer Gilbert enters the week as the NCAA Division I active career leader in RBI (239), runs scored (207), doubles (62) and home runs (73), all of which are also MAC career records ... Gilbert’s 239 career RBI are 32 ahead of the next closest player, Alabama’s Kaila Hunt ... Her 73 career home runs are seven ahead of Oklahoma junior Lauren Chamberlain, while her 207 career runs scored are nine ahead of Arizona State’s Alix Johnson ... Gilbert’s 62 career doubles are one ahead of Harvard’s Kasey Lange and just five more than her Ball State classmate first baseman Taylor Rager in fourth at 54 ... Gilbert also enters the week ranked fourth in career hits (269), seventh in slugging percentage (.823), eighth in at bats (693) and 22nd in triples (10) among active NCAA Division I players.
► IN THE TOP 10: With home runs against Indiana and Akron last week, Jennifer Gilbert moved into a tie for eighth on the NCAA Division I career home run list at 73 ... Gilbert, who is already the NCAA career home run leader among Canadian-born players, needs four homers to pass Arizona’s Jenny Dalton (1993-96) for seventh all-time ... Former UCLA slugger Stacey Nuveman (1997, 99, 2001-02) is the NCAA Division I career home leader with 90 long balls ... Gilbert also enters the week ranked ninth in NCAA Division I history with a .823 career slugging percentage, which includes all active players meeting the minimum requirements (250 career at bats).
► THE RAGER FACTOR: In addition to being the program’s record holder for career double plays turned at 64, Taylor Rager is also close to the top in nearly every career offensive category ... Rager is currently fourth in program history with a .350 career batting average ... Her 167 career RBI are second in both BSU and MAC annals, while her 56 career doubles are third in both BSU and MAC history ... Rager also ranks third in program history in home runs (34) and fifth in hits (220).
► WALK IT OUT: Taylor Rager became just the sixth player in Mid-American Conference history to draw 100 career walks when she was issued a free pass in the third inning of the April 5 win over Toledo ... She enters the week ranked second in program history and fourth in MAC annals with 109 career walks ... Jennifer Gilbert is tied for 11th in league history with 87 career walks, while senior third baseman Audrey Bickel is tied for 13th at 84 ... The only other active MAC players ranked in the top 15 on the league’s career walks chart are Ohio senior Raven King (84) and Miami senior Kayla Ledbetter (84) who are both tied with Bickel.
► WINNING IN THE CIRCLE: In picking up her 28th career pitching victory in last Sunday’s 7-0 win over league-leading Ohio, sophomore Kelsey Schifferdecker moved into 10th on Ball State’s career wins list ... Sophomore pitcher Nicole Steinbach is not far behind, as she is tied for 12th with 25 career pitching wins in a Ball State uniform ... Elizabeth Milian (2007-10) is the program’s all-time wins leader at 85 ... Steinbach also enters the weekend tied for third in BSU annals with five career saves.
► 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.
► In MAC-only games, the Cardinals pace the league in batting average (.324), earned run average (1.72) and fielding percentage (.975).
► Through Ball State’s first 10 league games, Jennifer Gilbert paces all league batters with a .552 (16-for-29) batting average and a 1.069 slugging percentage ... She has also drawn six walks and been hit by a pitch twice for a league-best .649 on base percentage.
► Sophomore designated player Sammi Cowger has also put together a solid league season, ranking second among league players in MAC-only contests with a .450 (9-for-20) batting average ... She blasted her first career home run in last Friday’s 15-2 (5 inn.) win over Akron, and also has a pair of doubles ... Cowger is also second in the MAC-only contest with a .577 on base percentage, having been walked and hit by a pitch three times each.
► Jennifer Gilbert, Taylor Rager and Audrey Bickel entered the week ranked 1-2-3 in total bases among all league players ... Gilbert’s 127 total bases are first in the conference by a wide margin, with Rager in second (86) and Bickel third (84) ... BSU’s three starting seniors also rank 1-3-4 in RBI, once again led by Gilbert (54) ... Bickel is third (39) and Rager is fourth (35).
► Of Briana Evans’ 49 hits this season, 27 have been either infield hits or bunt singles ... Evans is also tied for ninth in the MAC with 10 stolen bases this season.
► Briana Evans leads the league with five triples this season, with all five coming in BSU victories ... Her first triple came in a 7-1 win over Morehead State (Feb. 22) ... Her second came in a 12-0 (5 inn.) win over Alabama A&M (March 14) ... She posted triples in back-to-back games versus North Dakota State (6-4) and UMKC (8-0, 5 inn.) March 22 ... Her latest triple came in Ball State’s 10-0 (5 inn.) win over Ohio (April 19).
► Junior right fielder Loren Cihlar remains the top base stealer in program history based on percentage, with a .906 (29-for-32) rate of success over her career ... She is 9-for-10 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 37 of Ball State’s 43 games and put together a career-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 ... In BSU’s 7-4 win at Northern Illinois (April 11), Dabkowski blasted her first career grand slam with two outs in the seventh inning to drive in what proved to be the game-winning run ... Dabkowski added another game-winning home run at Indiana (April 16), blasting a three-run shot with one out in the seventh inning.
► Overall, Emily Dabkowski has helped account for 11 game-winning runs this season, including scoring the winning run six times and adding five game-winning RBI ... Jennifer Gilbert is first on the squad, accounting for 12 game winning runs, with nine game-winning RBI and six game-winning runs scored (three of which were on her own home runs and are factored out) ... Six of Gilbert’s MAC-leading 17 home runs this season have produced game-winning RBI, while three of Dabkowski’s six home runs have provided game-winning runs.
► Lauren Schroeder blasted a three-run, pinch-hit home run with two outs in the third inning of the April 5 win over Toledo ... It was her eighth career home run and fourth career three-run blast ... Of her eight career home runs, five have been pinch-hit bombs, including a walk-off grand slam to cap last season’s run rule of Butler (April 9, 2013).
► Ball State’s defense collected three double plays last week, raising its season total to 19 ... The Cardinals entered the week ranked first in the league and 22nd nationally with a 0.44 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 Miami series with a 10-2 record in its white uniform, a 13-9 mark in its black uniform, a 4-4 ledger in its grey uniform and a 0-1 mark in its red tops.