Salukis host Missouri State for 3-game weekend series

    Head coach Kerri Blaylock

    Head coach Kerri Blaylock
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    April 12, 2013

    Southern Illinois (16-20, 4-6 MVC) vs. Missouri State (15-21, 6-5 MVC)
     Dates Saturday, April 13-Sunday, April 14
     Times 12 p.m., Saturday (DH) / 12 p.m., Sunday
     Location Carbondale, Ill. - Charlotte West Stadium
     Audio/Video Streaming online at Saluki All-Access
     Game Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader
     Live Stats Game 1 /  Game 2 /  Game 3
     Social Media @SIU_Softball

    CARBONDALE, Ill.-- The Southern Illinois softball team looks for its third consecutive Missouri Valley Conference series win Saturday and Sunday as the Salukis host Missouri State for a three-game series.

    SIU leads its all-time series with the Bears 40-38, but the Salukis have won seven out of the last eight matchups between the two teams. MSU enters the weekend at 15-20 overall and 6-5 in the MVC after dropping a series at Illinois State 2-1 last week and falling to Central Arkansas Tuesday. MSU is led offensively by freshman Mary Stephens, who has a team-high .333 batting average and is tied for the team lead with 36 hits entering the weekend. Senior Kirstin Cutter is tied with Stephens for the team lead in hits to go along with a .303 batting average and a team-leading 25 runs scored. Senior Stevie Pierce (.300 avg, 27 hits, 18 runs) leads the Bears in RBI (29) and home runs (7) while junior Heather Duckworth (.310 avg, 27 hits, 19 RBI, 20 runs) has also been a solid contributor. Sophomore Chelsea Jones (9-13) is MSU's top pitcher with a 4.12 ERA to go along with 59 strikeouts and 49 walks in 149.2 innings. Jessie Van Es (4-8) is second on the staff with a 5.01 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 21 walks in 67.0 innings of work.

    SIU split a doubleheader with the Bears last season in Springfield, Mo. The Salukis came back from a 2-1 deficit after five innings to take a 7-2 win in the opener before the Bears got a walkoff RBI single from Ashley Brentz in the bottom of the seventh to win the second game 3-2.

    SIU dropped a midweek non-conference game to UT Martin 5-4 Wednesday in 11 innings. SIU tallied all nine of their hits in the first four innings, but only managed three runs in the stretch while stranding nine runners. SIU took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh before giving up the game-tying run on a wild pitch. The two teams went through three scoreless extra innings before UTM's Becca Williams hit a walkoff RBI single in the 11th.

    SIU softball will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the 2003 Sweet 16 team between games of Saturday's doubleheader. The 2003 Salukis went 39-14 overall and 18-6 in the MVC to earn the first at-large NCAA Tournament bid in program and MVC history. SIU topped three nationally-ranked opponents during the year, including No. 22 Alabama, No. 6 Nebraska and No. 17 Stanford at the NCAA Regional. The Salukis went 3-2 at the Tuscaloosa, Ala., Regional to finish as SIU's first-ever Sweet 16 team. SIU finished the year ranked No. 22 in the final NFCA rankings and No. 23 in the Softball poll.

    SIU is amongst a stretch where the Salukis will play seven of nine games at Charlotte West Stadium, continuing a home-heavy portion of the 2013 schedule. Due to some cancellations and venue changes, SIU played 10 of 15 games at home during the month of March. Next week, SIU embarks on a five-game road swing at Evansville and Creighton.

    Senior outfielder Morgan Barchan is the MVC leader in hits through Thursday with 46 for the season. The Arcadia, Calif., native ranks fourth in the MVC with a .387 batting average. Southern's leadoff hitter, Barchan leads SIU with a .479 on-base percentage and is also the team leader in runs scored with 31.

    SIU's game Wednesday at UT Martin marked head coach Kerri Blaylock's 750th game as a head coach, all of which were at SIU. Blaylock picked up her 500th career coaching win on March 21 with SIU's doubleheader sweep of Saint Louis. In her 14th season, the Saluki skipper sits at 504-246 overall. She is the second SIU coach and the eighth MVC coach to reach the 500-win milestone. Her career .672 winning percentage is the highest among the MVC's 500-win coaches.

    With 12 home runs in its last nine games, SIU is up to 30 homers for the season, which ranks second in the MVC behind Creighton's 32. That total through 36 games is just three shy of the team's long ball tally from last season. SIU's 16 home runs in MVC games is the league-leader by five. Six Saluki players (Michelle Bradley, Morgan Barchan, Kalyn Harker, Taylor Orsburn, Jayna Spivey and Meredith Wilson) have either equaled or bettered their home run totals from last season.

    Southern leads the MVC in drawing free bases through last week's games with a combined 187 free bases via walks and hit-by-pitches. The Salukis are second in the MVC with 146 bases on balls and Illinois State (149) is the only other team in the Valley with more than 120. Additionally, the Salukis' 41 free bases on hit by pitches is the league leader by 11.

    Allie VadeBoncouer hit SIU's fourth grand slam of the season in last Saturday's 14-6 win over Wichita State. That last time SIU hit more grand slams in a season was 2011 when the Salukis tallied five. Meredith Wilson already has two grand slams for SIU this season, something last accomplished by Christina Trapani in 2011.

    Saluki junior Jayna Spivey leads SIU and ranks second in the MVC with nine home runs, which sits just two short of her career best. Spivey hit 11 home runs as a freshman in 2011, which is tied for seventh in SIU history for a single season. Her 27 career home runs rank fourth in SIU history. She needs just one more to enter SIU's single-season top 10 list.

    Junior catcher Allie VadeBoncouer has drawn 18 free bases on hit-by-pitch this season. She ranks fifth in the nation in HBPs through the NCAA's most recent stats report. VadeBoncouer led the nation last season with 28 hit-by-pitches. She has been hit by 50 total pitches in her career.