ISU Softball Hosts Creighton for Final Homestand
April 27, 2012
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State softball team will host Creighton in its final homestand of the 2012 season this weekend for a key Missouri Valley Conference series. The Redbirds and Bluejays open the three-game set with a doubleheader Saturday at noon and conclude the weekend Sunday at noon, which will also be Senior Day for ISU.
Entering the weekend, Illinois State (29-20, 14-7 MVC) and Creighton (26-19-1, 14-6 MVC) are separated by just a half game in the Valley standings. The Bluejays are currently tied for second with Southern Illinois, while the Redbirds are in sole possession of fourth place. ISU is currently on a four-game winning streak, as it swept Bradley last weekend in Peoria, Ill., before topping Indiana State in a midweek game Tuesday evening. Creighton has won its last five contests, sweeping Evansville last weekend, prior to posting victories over Drake and non-conference opponent Nebraska Tuesday and Wednesday.
Senior Liz Andrews leads the Redbirds offensively with a .326 batting average and a team-high nine doubles. Sophomore Laura Canopy, who owns a .400 average in MVC play, is hitting .321 on the year with six doubles and 14 RBI. Juniors Jhavon Hamilton and Lauren Kellar round out ISU's list of players hitting over .300, as Hamilton ranks second in the Valley with nine home runs and Kellar has reached base in her last 18 contests, which includes an eight-game hitting streak.
Reigning MVC Pitcher of the Week Jordan Birch leads the Redbirds in the circle with an 18-12 record and 1.68 ERA. The senior righty leads the conference with a 186 strikeouts in her 179.0 innings of work and has posted eight shutouts, while holding opposing hitters to a .202 average. Birch enters the weekend needing just six strikeouts to become only the second pitcher in Illinois State history to reach the 600-strikeout plateau. Fellow senior Megan Warner has made 20 starts and is 9-7 on the year with a 3.90 ERA.
Creighton has been one of the Valley's top offensive teams this season and is hitting .293 as a team, a mark that ranks second in the MVC. The Bluejays lead the league with 46 home runs, 247 RBI and a .461 slugging percentage. Amy Baker leads CU with a .363 batting average and 44 RBI, and is tied for the team lead with seven doubles. Alexis Cantu is hitting .343 and leads the Valley with 13 home runs and an impressive .750 slugging percentage. In the circle, sophomore Becca Changstrom leads the Bluejay pitching staff with a 16-10 record, 2.29 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 156 innings of work.
Illinois State and Creighton have met 66 times on the softball diamond with the Redbirds holding a slim 33-32-1 advantage in the all-time series. The Redbirds took two of three games from the Bluejays last season in Omaha, Neb., to clinch the MVC regular-season championship. However, Creighton has won seven of the last 10 meetings and 10 of the last 15.
On Saturday, former Redbird All-American and 2010 Percy Family ISU Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Heather Stella will serve as a Redbird ambassador and toss out the first pitch prior to the opener. Sunday will be Senior Day at Marian Kneer Stadium and following the game, Illinois State will honor its four seniors, which include Andrews, Birch, Warner and Caiti Kopp. Sunday will also be Sundae Sunday at the ballpark and ice cream sundaes served in souvenir mini helmets will be available at the concession stand.
GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.