TERRE HAUTE, Ind.—After playing their first two games of the season inside the friendly confines of Price Field Wednesday, the Indiana State softball team will now turn its attention back toward Missouri Valley Conference play as they host the Shockers of Wichita State in a three-game series beginning on Friday. The Sycamores enter the weekend with a 16-9 overall record and 1-1 in MVC play while the Shockers are 15-11 and 2-1 in Valley play. The Shockers series with Loyola was the only MVC series to be played to completion last weekend due to poor weather conditions around the league. The two teams enter the weekend as the top two offensive teams in the MVC with the Shockers hitting .301 while the Sycamores are right behind at .297. The Sycamore pitching staff is also second in the MVC with a .304 ERA while Wichita State ranks eighth in the Valley with a 4.66 ERA. Due to poor weather conditions expected on Sunday, that game has been moved to Friday at 3 p.m. with the normally scheduled doubleheader set to begin at 12 p.m. on Saturday. Live stats for all games along with full box scores and recaps will be available online at GoSycamores.com. A free live video webcast will also be available online at GoSycamores.com for all Sycamore Softball home games.
Last Time Out
The Indiana State softball team last saw the field on Mar. 19 when they swept a doubleheader against Southeast Missouri State to open the home portion of their 2014 season schedule. The Sycamores defeated the Redhawks 3-2 in game one of the doubleheader before sweeping the doubleheader with a 2-0 win in game two, behind a complete game combined shutout by Halle Humphrey and Taylor Lockwood. Junior Yvette Alvarez also earned the win in game one and hit her first career home run as a Sycamore in game two. On the series, Alvarez went 3-5 at the plate with a home run and two doubles while senior Morgan Allee and sophomore Kelsey Montgomery each batted .500.
A Little History — Wichita State
The Sycamores and Shockers have previously met 81 times with the Shockers holding the 50-31 all-time series advantage over the Sycamores. The two teams first met during the 1984 season when they split a doubleheader 2-0, 1-4 in Wichita, Kan. Last season, the two teams played a three-game series in Wichita, Kan. The Sycamores won the first game 4-2 before falling 4-3 and 6-3 in the final two games of the series.
Scouting The Shockers
The Shockers enter the game with a 15-11 overall record and 2-1 in Missouri Valley Conference play, having last seen the field on Mar. 19 in a 2-1 loss to the Bluejays of Creighton. The Shockers currently lead the MVC in batting average at .301 and have five different players batting over .300, led by Paige Luellen who is hitting .395 with 32 hits, six doubles, six home runs and 30 RBI’s. In the circle for the Shockers, Sloan Anderson leads the Wichita State pitching staff with a 3.93 ERA and 6-8 overall record with 68 strikeouts over her 87.1 innings pitched in 20 apperances this season.
Montgomery Leads The Way
After hitting .237 during her freshman campaign, sophomore Kelsey Montgomery has broken out in her sophomore season as she leads the Sycamores and the Missouri Valley Conference with a .451 average with 23 hits in 51 at bats. Her batting average also ranks her 39th in NCAA Division 1. Not only has she been superb at putting the ball in play, Montgomery has also gotten on base other ways as she holds an MVC leading .525 on base percentage. Montgomery is also fourth in the MVC in stolen bases and second for the Sycamores with nine.
Moving On Up
In just her second season as a Sycamore, senior Morgan Allee is moving up the record book and currently sits in second place in career stolen bases with 58, just 10 away from the record set by Amy Vaira set in 1995. Allee is also just 15 steals away from breaking the single season Missouri Valley Conference record after falling just one short last season with 26. Allee is also second in on base percentage at .441, behind only Krista McFarren who held a .471 average from 1981-83. Senior Shelby Wilson is also sixth in career RBI’s with 73, just 16 away from Katie Armour’s mark of 89 for the top spot.
Dominant In The Circle
The pitching staff has led the Sycamores through the early part of the 2014 season and currently holds a 3.04 ERA as a team which ranks second in the Missouri Valley Conference. Junior pitcher Yvette Alvarez ranks 5th in the MVC in ERA at 2.86 and ranks first in wins with nine. Sophomore Taylor Lockwood is also seventh in the MVC with a 3.03 earned run average in 15 appearances and 62.1 innings pitched.
Not Afraid To Sacrifice
Freshman Rylee Holland as made an immediate impact for the Sycamores and been superb at advancing runners. In 24 games played, Holland has eight sacrifice bunts and two sacrifice flies to lead the Missouri Valley Conference and ranks sixth in NCAA Division 1. Holland also leads the MVC in runners advanced with 15. Sophomore Alexa Cavin is also second in the MVC in runners advanced with 13. As a team, the Sycamores have 35 sacrifice bunts to lead the MVC. Indiana State has also added six sacrifice flies.
Through their first 25 games of the season, the Indiana State softball team has been quick to get on the scoreboard. The Sycamores have scored first in 18 of their 25 games played. When scoring first, the Sycamores are 14-4 on the season. The Sycamores have also scored in the first inning 11 times and hold a perfect 11-0 record when doing so. The Sycamores have also been outstanding at holding teams to two or fewer runs as they have done so nine times and hold an 10-1 record when doing so.
Fielding It Clean
After finishing near the top of the league in fielding percentage last season, the Sycamores are once again doing a superb job of not beating themselves and are currently second in the MVC and 61st nationally in fielding percentage at .969. The Sycamores 23 errors is also the second fewest in the MVC to date. In addition, the Sycamores have also turned eight double plays which ranks second in the MVC.
Stone Hits A Milestone
After hitting eight home runs during her sophomore campaign, junior Megan Stone hit a milestone on March 15 against Evansville as she cleared the bases with her first career grand slam. With no outs in the top of the fifth inning, Stone crushed a ball over the left field wall to tie the game 6-6 against the Purple Aces. It was also the first home run of the season for the junior.
Taylor Lockwood In MVC Player Of The Week
Sophomore Taylor Lockwood has gotten off to a hot start to her Sycamore career and for the second time this season, she has been named Missouri Valley Conference pitcher of the week. Over the five games at the USF-Under Armour Showcase, Lockwood held a 1.95 ERA with a 1-0 record in three appearances with one complete game over 14.1 innings pitched with 10 strikeouts. Lockwood also earned the honor after her outstanding performance at the Tiger Classic. Lockwood is the first Sycamore player to earn an MVC weekly award in 2014 and the first since Megan Stone was named player of the week on March 25, 2013. Lockwood is also the first Sycamore pitcher to earn Pitcher of the Week since Lindsey Beisser won the award twice during the 2012 season.
Playing Small Ball
Despite having the fewest extra base hits in the MVC through their 25 games played with 29, the Sycamores are averaging nearly eight hits a game and are third in the Missouri Valley Conference in batting average at .297 . While they have been superb at putting the ball in play, the Sycamores have also found other ways on base as they are third in the MVC in On Base Percentage at .381. The Sycamores also rank fifth in the MVC in walks and hit by pitch with 77 and 14, respectively. Three Sycamore players have also received double digit walks in Allee, Crissman and Stone.
Advancing Those Runners
Not only has the team been efficient at getting on base, they have also been able to advance runners already on base. The Sycamores lead the MVC in sacrifice bunts with 35 and lead the Valley in runners advanced with 99, 22 more than Wichita State who ranks second in the leage. Just as they did last season, the Sycamores also lead the MVC in stolen bases with 62 in 25 games, ranking them third nationally.
Good Speed Aboard
Just as it was last season, speed is the name of the game for the Sycamores as they have 62 stolen bases in 25 games to rank first in the MVC and third nationally. Senior Morgan Allee leads the team with 22 stolen bases after finishing 2013 ninth in the NCAA with 36 stolen bases. On Feb. 22 against Dayton, Allee stole four bases for a team and career high. As a team the Sycamores stole nine bases against Quinnipiac on March 7. Now 25 games into the season, 13 different Sycamore players have stolen a base with freshmen Kassie Brown, Erika Crissman, Rylee Holland and Brooke Riemenschneider along with sophomores Kelsey Montgomery, Abbie Malchow and Alexa Cavin and juniors Aubre Carpenter and Megan Stone also stealing multiple bases for the Sycamores. The Sycamores also rank third in the NCAA in total stolen bases.
Scoring Those Runs
After scoring 117 runs in 25 games, the Sycamores are fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference in runs scored and sixth in runs scored per game at 4.68. The Sycamores lead the MVC as they hold a .540 percentage of runners advanced. Sophomore Kelsey Montgomery leads the team with runners in scoring position as she holds a .526 batting average with 10 hits in 19 at bats with runners in scoring position. Freshman Rylee Holland also leads the team in success advancing runners with a .618 average with 21 advancements in 34 opportunities.
Inside The Park
For the second time in as many seasons, the Indiana State softball team has recorded an inside the park home run. On March 1 against Western Kentucky in the Hilltopper Classic, sophomore Alexa Cavin hit a ball to center field and sped around the bases for her first career home run, an inside the park home run. Last season, now senior, Morgan Allee hit an inside the park home run at Northern Iowa.
Lockwood Is Tiger Classic MVP
Sophomore Taylor Lockwood was a force to be dealt with in the Tiger Classic in Nashville, Tenn. on Feb. 22-23 when she pitched 13.2 scoreless innings en route to a 2-0 record while striking out 11 batters. For her efforts, Lockwood was named MVP of the tournament while freshman Erika Crissman and senior Morgan Allee each earned All-Tourmant honors.
Wilson & Allee Earn All-MVC Honors
After both received postseason recognition last season, seniors Shelby Wilson and Morgan Allee each earned 1st Team Preseason All-Missouri Valley Conference honors for the 2014 season. This marks the first time in school history that two players have received preseason honors. Last season, Wilson was named 1st Team All-MVC and 2nd Team All-Region while Allee was named 2nd Team All-MVC and Newcomer of the Year.
New Faces, New Team
While the name on the front of the jerseys is the same, the 2014 edition of the Indiana State softball team is much different than last season’s team. This years team has just eight returners who are joined by nine newcomers. New faces include: juniors pitcher Yvette Alvarez and infielder Aubre Carpenter, sophomore pitcher Taylor Lockwood, and freshmen outfielder Rylee Holland, utility player Leah Salmon, utility player Kassie Brown, outfielder Erika Crissman, catcher Brooke Riemenschneider, and catcher Madison Booe. Also new to the team this year is assistant coach Lucas Hileman who will work primarily with the outfielders and Sycamore hitters.
Follow ISU Softball Online
Keep up to date with Sycamore softball all over the web this season. Full stats, box scores and recaps will continue to be available on www.GoSycamores.com. Every home game along with the majority of road games can also be heard world wide free of charge online at GoSycamores.com and select home games will offer a free webcast. However, you can also follow the Sycamores on Facebook at Facebook.com/SycamoreSoftball with the Indiana State University Softball fan page or on Twitter at Twitter.com/IndStSoftball. Highlights and interviews will also be available at Youtube.com.
On To The Next One
Following the first home Missouri Valley Conference games of the season for the Sycamores this weekend, the Indiana State softball team will take a break from mid-week games before traveling to Normal, Ill. to face the the Redbirds of Illinois State in a three-game series on the campus of Illinois State University. The two teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 29 with the finale of the series beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Mar. 30.