Redbird Softball Hosts Indiana State in MVC Action Wednesday
March 31, 2009
NORMAL, Ill. - One week after its big 2-1 upset victory over then-No. 24 Iowa, the Illinois State softball team (14-14, 2-4 Missouri Valley Conference) returns to action Wednesday when it plays host to Indiana State (8-13, 2-4 MVC) in a 3 p.m. doubleheader at Marian Kneer Softball Stadium. The Redbirds are returning to action after their weekend series against No. 25 Southern Illinois was cancelled due to inclement weather.
Illinois State and Indiana State are currently tied for eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference with identical 2-4 conference records.
Illinois State is coming off of its first win over a ranked opponent this season, after it defeated longtime rival and 24th-ranked Iowa, 2-1, March 25 at Marian Kneer Softball Stadium. That win saw the revitalization of the pitching prowess of senior Amber Smith (5-7), who threw a complete-game six-hitter, while walking just one in her first win in almost two weeks.
Smith earned her first-ever State Farm MVC Pitcher of the Week honor for that performance.
The Redbirds have dominated the all-time series against Indiana State, owning a 62-11 record in the series. Aside from an 8-7, 11-inning series-finale loss to the Sycamores in 2007, Illinois State has won 23 of the last 24 games in the series. Eight of the Redbirds' 21 wins over the Sycamores since 2000 have come by way of a run-rule.
Illinois State head coach Melinda Fischer is 52-9 all-time against Indiana State, and she has guided her team to a 21-1 record against the Sycamores since The Valley went to three-game conference series in 2002. Illinois State won all three of its games against Indiana State last year.
Indiana State is in the same predicament that Illinois State currently finds itself in: a lot of rainouts have made it difficult to get some much-needed winning momentum going. The Sycamores have had nine games cancelled this season due to inclement weather, and enter Wednesday's MVC doubleheader against Illinois State with an 8-13 overall record and a 2-4 conference mark. Indiana State has lost four-straight games, including three-straight Valley matchups.
Indiana State is hitting .257 on the season with a .344 team slugging percentage and a .332 on-base percentage, all of which rank in the bottom half of the conference. The Sycamores are led at the plate by Katie Armour, whose .433 batting average is the second-highest in the conference. Illinois State will need to look out for the Sycamores' Meredith Simpson (.397 BA), who is a major extra-base threat with seven doubles and three home runs this season.
In the circle, Indiana State pitchers own a combined 3.11 ERA, slightly higher than Illinois State's 2.85 team ERA. Meagan McCurdy leads all Sycamore pitchers with a 1.91 ERA but she is just 0-2 on the season and has pitched only 14.2 innings. Darcy Wood, a former All-MVC selection, is 5-7 on the year with a 3.06 ERA in 82.1 innings pitched.
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