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Softball Bears Prep for Key League Weekend at Indiana State

Missouri State Softball - Games 31-33
Missouri State (18-12, 6-3 MVC) at Indiana State (16-17, 2-7 MVC)
Dates Saturday, April 8, 11 a.m. (DH) | Sunday, April 9, 10 a.m.
Location Terre Haute, Ind.
Site Price Field (capacity 700)
Time (Central) Saturday 11 a.m. (DH) | Sunday 10 a.m.
Follow Along Live Stats | ESPN3 (Saturday) | ESPN3 (Sunday)
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Up Next MSU vs. Evansville, April 14-15 (Killian Stadium)

The Starting Nine
    ?    The Bears are the only MVC team to rank in the top three in the league in team hitting, pitching and fielding. Entering the week, Missouri State's .306 team batting average ranks second in The Valley (and 49th nationally), while its 2.65 ERA is third. MSU's .965 fielding average is the second-best defensive effort in the conference this season.
    ?    MSU has outscored its opponents by a 27-13 margin in the fifth inning this season.
    ?    Senior Mary Stephens (Sachse, Texas) is just three RBI away from 100 for her career. She would be the fifth MSU player to ever reach that milestone and first since Jessie Smith in 2009.
    ?    Missouri State has scored first in 20 of its 30 games this season. The Bears are 15-5 when scoring first.
    ?    Kaitlin Beason (Webb City, Mo.) ranks eighth nationally and leads all MVC pitchers with 6 shutouts on the season. Beason is 9-6 with a 2.04 ERA on the season and is 1-0 in her career against Indiana State (0.00 ERA). She also ranks 42nd nationally with her two saves.
    ?    MSU's pitching staff leads the Missouri Valley Conference in fewest hits allowed (186), fewest runs allowed (87) and fewest walks allowed (56).
    ?    Missouri State has matched or out-hit 15 of its last 17 opponents and is 12-5 in that span since March 5. The Bears are now 17-3 when out-hitting their opponents.
    ?    The Bears have turned 14 double plays through their first 30 games (0.47 per game), which ranks 28th among the    nation's 291 Division I programs.
    ?    Missouri State's pitchers threw four straight shutouts and 32 consecutive scoreless innings of work from March 25 to April 1, helping the Bears to a 6-3 start in Valley play. The Bears fanned 23 opposing hitters in that 32-inning stretch.
    ?    MSU's top career performers against Indiana State are: Hailee Vigneaux .500 (5/10), Mary Stephens .364 (12/33, 2 HR, 10 RBI) and Madison Jones .353 (6/17).
    ?    Senior Mary Stephens (Sachse, Texas) led the Bears' offense in the Bradley series, hitting .429 with a .571 slugging percentage. Madison Jones (Overland Park, Kan.) also hit .400 on the weekend.
    ?    The Bears boast three of the top 10 hitters in the league with Erika Velasquez Zimmer (Coppell, Texas) hitting .382 to rank sixth. She is also fourth in the MVC with 39 hits. Hailee Vigneaux (Ozark, Mo.) is hitting .372 which is eighth in the MVC, while Bethany Sullinger (Kansas City, Mo.) is 10th in the conference with a .369 batting average.
    ?    Velasquez Zimmer and Madison Jones share the MVC lead with three triples apiece.
Head Coach Holly Hesse
   Holly Hesse (Creighton, 1982) is 744-733-2 (.504) in her 29th season as head coach at Missouri State and overall. She is 51-21 all-time against Indiana State.
   She the second-winningest coach in Missouri Valley Conference history and joined the 700-victory club with a 4-0 win at Illinois State on April 18, 2015, completing a doubleheader sweep in Normal, Ill.
   She is also the winningest softball coach in Missouri State history. Her tenure includes two regular-season MVC titles, five MVC tournament crowns and five NCAA Tournament appearances. Hesse recorded her 300th win in 2000, her 400th win in 2004, her 500th in 2007 and victory number 600 in 2012.  Missouri State leads all schools with 70 wins in the MVC Tournament and Hesse has the second-most MVC Tournament wins with 49. Hesse started the 2017 campaign ranked 36th among all active NCAA Division I coaches with 726 career victories.
   Hesse's 2016 squad finished ranked 13th in the country with a .973 fielding percentage. The Bears went 22-30 and earned a spot in the MVC Tournament in a do-or-die series to end the regular season. Her team rallied to the challenge and carried the momentum to the MVC Tournament quarterfinals.
The Series
   Missouri State leads the all-time series with Indiana State by a 59-25 margin in a rivalry that dates back to 1980. The Bears are 23-11 all-time in Terre Haute and took two out of three from the Sycamores last season.
   In last year's series, the Bears won the first game 1-0 before claiming game two by a 5-1 score behind a one-hit shutout by Kaitlin Beason and three-run homer by Mary Stephens. ISU won the series finally, 5-3, despite a homer by Beason and two RBI by Erin Duewel.
Scouting the Opponent
  Interim head coach Tori Magner and the Sycamores enter the week with a 15-17 record and 2-7 mark in Valley games. ISU is also 2-5 at home this season.
  Leading the way for ISU is freshman utility specialist Leslie Sims who is batting .446 on the season with a team-high 15 stolen bases. ISU also boasts one of the league's top power hitters in sophomore Brooke Mann who has a team-high 29 RBI, 6 home runs and a .326 batting average starting the week.  
  In the circle, the Sycamores have a 4.35 ERA (4.91 in MVC games) with 99 strikeouts in 217.1 innings of work. Keznie Ihle is 11-9 in 18 starts with a 3.97 ERA and 66 strikeouts.

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