NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State softball team (21-15, 6-5 MVC) continues its stretch of 21 games in 26 days by hosting Indiana State (14-27, 3-12 MVC) for a doubleheader, Wednesday evening at Marian Kneer Stadium. First pitch for game one is at 3 p.m., with game two starting approximately 20 minutes after the conclusion of game one.
Scouting the Sycamores
The Sycamores enter the doubleheader 14-27 overall and 3-12 in the Missouri Valley Conference after being swept by league-leading Creighton and splitting a doubleheader with IUPUI last week. Shelby Wilson(.368), Megan Stone(.360) and Morgan Allee(.351) all hit above .350, but nobody else on the roster hits above .250. Wilson and Stone have combined for 16 of the team's 23 home runs, with eight apiece. Allee has swiped 31 bases in 39 attempts, the most in the MVC. As a team, the Sycamores rank 12th nationally with 2.02 stolen bases per game.
Pitching has been a weakness, as Indiana State enters the doubleheader with a league-worst 5.24 ERA. Ashli Scott leads the team in appearances (33), starts (16), and ERA (4.74) and shares the team-lead for wins (five). All in all, the Sycamores have utilized five different pitchers, four in starting roles.
Todd Boumanis in his second season at the helm, and has a 33-61 mark after combined with last year's 19-34 campaign. He recorded his 200th-career victory April 3 with a 6-5 win over Illinois.
Illinois State holds a 74-14 all-time mark against the Sycamores in the series that dates back to 1980. The Redbirds have won seven of the past eight contests, falling once last season in Terre Haute. The Redbirds haven't lost to Indiana State at home since May 4, 1991, a stretch of 27-straight victories.
Senior catcher/infielder Elizabeth Kayleads the Missouri Valley Conference in batting average (.426), which is also 34th-best nationally, and on-base percentage (.542). The Bartlett, Ill., native broke Heather Stella's all-time program best of 157 with an RBI single against Drake April 14. She has 159 in her career.
With the doubleheader sweep of Bradley April 11, head coach Melinda Fischerearned her 900th and 901st victories at Illinois State. Fischer, the all-time winningest coach in Illinois State athletics and MVC softball history, has won 943 games in her career.
The Redbird offense averages 5.45 runs per game, the second-best in the Missouri Valley Conference and 50th-best nationally.
The high-scoring Redbird offense is fueled by a Missouri Valley Conference-best .393 on-base percentage.
ISU is second in the conference with 160 walks, while Jhavon Hamilton35 and Elizabeth Kay27 rank them first and second in the MVC. Hamilton ranks sixth nationally with 0.92 walks per game, while Kay is 42nd at 0.71.
The Redbirds have played 10 games against top-25 foes, winning three of them.
After recording just one multi-RBI performance through her first three seasons, senior Shelby Musichas achieved the feat seven times in the 2013 season.
Sophomore Sophia Pereztied a single-season ISU record with her fourth save of the campaign in Sunday's 6-5 win at Drake. She has not allowed a run since March 30, throwing 5.2-straight scoreless innings spanning four appearances.
The Beating Heart
As is the case with most good offenses, the heart of the Illinois State batting order leads the Redbirds' potent attack.
Junior first baseman Laura Canopymaintains the third spot in the order. She leads the Missouri Valley Conference lead with a career-high 37 RBI, while also hitting .347 with a career-high eight home runs.
Senior catcher/infielder Elizabeth Kayleads the Valley with a .426 batting average and has slugged 10 home runs while also adding 37 RBI from the cleanup spot.
In the Redbirds' last 15 games, Canopy and Kay have combined to hit .517 with 10 home runs, 31 RBI, 32 runs scored and 22 walks.
Hamilton, Kay and Kellar have seen regular playing time in all four seasons, with each starting every game thus far in 2013.
With two RBI against Drake (April 14), Kay surpassed Heather Stella to become the program's all-time leader, with 159. She also ranks top-10 all-time in five other major offensive categories: home runs (third with 43), runs (fifth with 118), slugging percentage (sixth at .563) and hits (seventh with 185).
Kay has also started all 203 games in her career, 20 shy of Kara Nelson's record 223, with 15 scheduled games remaining.
Hamilton's top-15 rankings include runs scored (second with 142), RBI (fifth with 111), hits (fifth with 194), home runs (fifth with 26), slugging percentage (10th at .525) and starts (11th with 195), while Kellar's 114 runs, 187 starts and 170 hits rank her seventh, 14th and 12th, respectively.
The trio, combined with Music, is the only class in program history to make three NCAA Tournament appearances.
The Legend Continues
Head coach Melinda Fischeris in her 28th season at the helm of the Redbirds, and 30th overall, with a 943-631-4 career-record.
A 2010 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Hall of Fame inductee, Fischer ranks in the top-20 all-time for NCAA Division I wins, and is 12th among active coaches.
The all-time winningest coach in Illinois State athletics and Missouri Valley Conference softball history has led Redbird teams to all nine of the program's NCAA Tournament appearances, including the last three years. She has also won 10 MVC/Gateway regular-season titles and five MVC/Gateway Tournament championships.
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