Missouri Valley Conference baseball teams opened the 2011 season last weekend, combining for a 12-15 record. Wichita State was the lone league team to finish the weekend with an unscathed record, as the Shockers swept Niagara in a three-game home series. The Shockers are ranked No. 23 in this week's Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll.
This week's Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Player/Pitcher of the Week are Chris Murphy of Southern Illinois and Charlie Lowell of Wichita State.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Chris Murphy, Sr., OF, Southern Illinois
Saluki senior centerfielder Chris Murphy went 7-for-13 at the plate on opening weekend to lead SIU to a 2-1 record, which is just the fifth 2-1 start to a season for SIU in the last 20 years. He had at least two hits in all three games over the weekend, scored one run and stole one base in the Louisiana Tech Classic. Murphy tied his career-high in Sunday’s 10-6 win over Nicholls State when he had four RBIs off three hits.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Charlie Lowell, Jr., LHP, Wichita State
Junior Charlie Lowell earned the win on Saturday against Niagara. He pitched five shutout innings and allowed just one single while walking none and striking out seven. The only baserunner he allowed in his five innings was a single in the second inning. He struck out at least one batter in every inning and struck out two in the first and fifth inning. With his five shutout innings, he has now thrown 26.1 straight innings without allowing an earned run.
Noteworthy - In addition to the league's player and pitcher of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:
Jimmy Swift (CU) - Swift got a hit in each of the first three games, finishing the opening weekend with a .400 batting average and .571 on base percentage. Swift has four hits and four total bases to go along with two walks and two hit by pitch in the early season. He played solid defense at shortstop, committing just one error over the weekend, and made a couple extra base-saving stops. He was part of three double-plays turned over the weekend, including two up the middle.
Greg Wallace (UE) - Wallace led the Aces’ bats in the opening weekend, hitting .500 (6-for-12) with a .833 slugging percentage. Wallace belted a triple and two doubles, batting in two runs and scoring four in the three-game series versus Memphis. The British Columbia native’s two hits in each game extended his hitting streak to 10 games, carried over from the 2010 season.
Ryan Court (ILS) - Court led Illinois State to its first win of the season, going 2-for-2 with two RBI and one run scored against Belmont, Feb. 18. The Sleepy Hollow, Ill., native turned in another impressive performance in the second game of ISU’s Feb. 19 doubleheader, going 3-for-2 with a walk. Court was also a key contributor in ISU’s series finale, turning in a 1-for-3 performance with one run scored and a walk. After the first weekend of play, Court leads the Redbirds in four offensive categories, including batting average (.500), on-base percentage (.667), doubles (3) and walks (4). Court also ranks second on the team in slugging percentage (.800).
Robby Ort (INS) - Ort led the Sycamores in their opening weekend of the 2011 season, going 6-10 at the plate with a home run, a triple and three RBIs. Ort led ISU in home runs and RBIs over their weekend at Dallas Baptist, one season after leading in the team with five home runs and 50 RBIs as a true freshman. The sophomore utility player also went 1-1 in stolen base attempts while also picking up an outfield assist by cutting down a Patriot runner at the plate.
Brock Chaffin (MSU) - Chaffin hit .550 (11-20) in four games, including an 11-for-12 stretch at one point. The junior college transfer had a double, a home run and three RBIs while not striking out in his first 19 Division I plate appearances. Chaffin went 3-for-5 in the opener against Air Force, 5-for-5 with a double against Washington, and 3-for-5 with a home run versus Texas State.
Walker Davidson (WSU) - Davidson led the Shockers to a sweep of Niagara over the weekend. He went 4-for-8 with two runs, two doubles, one triple, and six RBI. He also added two walks and two sacrifice hits, while playing perfect defense at second base in 14 total chances. On Saturday, he went 2-for-2 with two doubles, two sacrifice hits and four RBI. One of his sacrifices was a suicide squeeze that he put down to score a run. On Sunday, he went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a triple.
Jonas Dufek (CU) - Dufek set a new career high in strikeouts in the 6-3 win on Saturday over Canisius, mowing down 11 batters in 5.0 innings of work. The senior is holding opponents to a .250 batting average and allowed just five hits and gave up three walks in the opening weekend.
Dan Savas (ILS) - Savas earned the win in his first collegiate start, Feb. 20. The Rosemont, Ill., native pitched six innings, allowing just one run on two hits. Savas struck out four batters and only walked one batter. After the first weekend, Savas holds the lowest earned run average (1.50) and opposing batting average (.100) on the team. He also ranks first on the team in innings pitched (6.0) and winning percentage (1.000), and second on the team in strikeouts (four).
Nick Petree (MSU) - Petree picked up the victory Saturday with six innings of relief against preseason Southland Conference favorite Texas State. The redshirt freshman fanned seven Bobcats and scattered five hits and one run in his first game action since his senior year of high school in 2009. Petree, who underwent Tommy John Surgery after high school, pitched three 1-2-3 innings in the game.
Cody Forsythe (SIU) - Forsythe led Southern Illinois to its first victory of the season when he gave up just two hits in seven innings during SIU’s 4-3 win over Grambling State on Saturday. Forsythe, who picked up the victory on the hill, allowed two runs in his seven innings, but both runs were unearned. He struck out a career-high five batters and only walked one. Forsythe faced 25 batters in the game and threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of them and he also had a streak in the game where he did not give up a hit to 14 consecutive batters.