Monday, May 05, 2014 | Softball
Softball Weekly Release (May 5)

RPI: Three in top-100
Three Missouri Valley Conference teams – Illinois State (55), Wichita State (89) and Northern Iowa (98) – are among the nation’s top-100 teams in the April 28 NCAA RPI ratings.

MVC Player of the Week
Brittany Fortner, Wichita State
Fortner led the Shockers in the final series against Illinois State last weekend, hitting .545 (6-for-11), which included two home runs, four RBIs and four runs scored to go along with her 1.091 slugging and .615 on-base percentages. The sophomore outfielder improved her batting average on the season to .365 in 54 games for Wichita State, leading the team in doubles (14) and tied for second in home runs (8).

MVC Pitcher of the Week
Brittany Gardner, Loyola
Senior Brittany Gardner posted a sparkling 0.54 ERA during the Ramblers’ three-game series versus Northern Iowa this weekend. Gardner was lights out in the series opener, earning a complete-game victory while striking out six Panthers. Northern Iowa took advantage of several Loyola fielding errors with Gardner on the mound in the series finale, as the senior was the tough-luck loser, finishing with five strikeouts. On the weekend, the Rambler ace held the Panthers to just 12 hits and four runs, and she racked up 14 strikeouts.

MVC Newcomer of the Week
Cacy Williams, Wichita State
Williams had a record-breaking weekend, hitting her 16th home run on the season in the 10-4 victory on Sunday, breaking the school record for home runs in a season (previously set at 15 in 2007). The sophomore transfer hit three home runs on the weekend – including one in the first game Saturday to lift the Shockers over the Redbirds in the sixth inning – to get the record and raised her batting average to .422, good for first in the MVC. The Platte, Mo., native hit .455 (5-for-11) on the weekend, with six RBIs, seven runs scored and 14 total bases to go along with an impressive, team-leading 1.273 slugging and .571 on-base percentages. On the season, Williams leads the MVC in batting average (.422), home runs (16), slugging percentage (.813), runs scored (57), hits (70), and total bases (135).

Other notable performances:

PLAYERS
Shannon King, Bradley
King hit a team-best .538 for the week, including an impressive .636 in the weekend series at Drake. She owned a .571 on base percentage and scored or drove in six of Bradley’s 17 runs (35.3 percent) in the four outings. In the final non-conference game of the year, King was 0-for-2 with a walk. She drove in a pair of runs in the first inning of the series opener at Drake, finishing the game 1-for-3 with two RBI. In Bradley’s lone victory of the week, she scored or drove in four of the team’s 10 runs and went 3-for-4 with two runs and two driven in. King matched the 3-for-4 effort in the final game of the series in an extra-inning setback to the Bulldogs. She also had a perfect fielding percentage for the week on 19 chances.

Megan Sowa, Drake
Freshman Megan Sowa went 6-for-10 (.600) at the plate last week to help Drake to a 2-2 overall record. She recorded a triple, two stolen bases, three walks, five runs scored, a .692 on-base percentage and a .800 slugging percentage. Her big week helped raise her team-leading batting average to .382 on the season along with a team-high 52 hits. She also leads the team in triples (2), runs scored (28) and on-base percentage (.462) and is second in steals with seven.

Stephanie Gallant, Illinois State
Gallant concluded her phenomenal conference season by hitting .308 (4-for-13) with three home runs, five RBI and three runs scored. The junior has tallied 27 RBI in MVC contests, second-most in the league for conference-only action, and has slugged seven of her eight home runs in Valley games. Gallant began the week by slugging a two-run home run in the win over Drake, Monday. She crushed a two-run homer in game two of the series against league-champion Wichita State as part of a two-hit performance, Saturday, before hitting another bomb in the series finale, Sunday.

Megan Stone, Indiana State
Junior Megan Stone finished up the 2014 season on a high note as she fueled the Sycamores to a series win on the road against Southern Illinois. Stone finished the week with a .571 batting average going 4-7 at the plate with two home runs and a double with four RBI’s. The junior also had two walks for a .667 on base percentage and a 1.571 slugging percentage to lead the team while also holding a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage at first base and right field.

Olivia Bell, Loyola
Loyola University Chicago senior Olivia Bell finished with a .333 average (3-for-9) in Loyola’s three-game series versus Northern Iowa. The slapper came up clutch in the first game, roping a two-run double in the left field to put the Ramblers up 2-0 en route to a 5-2 victory. In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Bell continued her hot-hitting streak, finishing 2-for-2 with one RBI in the 4-2 loss. On the weekend, the senior posted a .444 slugging percentage and a .400 on base percentage.

Bethany Sullinger, Missouri State
Sullinger has been clutch all season and she shined when needed with the game-winning RBI to send MSU into the MVC Tournament. Last week, she drove in five runs giving her 45 RBI on the season, second-most in the MVC and one shy of tying the single-season school record. She has four big runs batted in in game one while collecting a career-high four hits. Sullinger had two doubles and scored twice with all four RBI coming with two outs to up her league-leading total to 28 two-out RBI. In game two on Saturday, she went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks. On Sunday, she hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning with the bases loaded, pushing home the winning run. On the week, she hit .500 with five RBI, two runs scored, two walks and two doubles.

Caitlin Wnek, UNI
Caitlin Wnek was a continuous threat for the Panthers throughout the week both offensively and defensively. Wnek accumulated a .583 batting average after going 7-for-12 at the plate with a double, a homer and tallied two runners batted in. Wnek had team-leading numbers in both slugging percentage (.917) and on-base percentage (.643). Wnek went 3-for-4 against the Iowa Hawkeyes but was unable to generate any runs. She changed that on Saturday going deep against the Loyola Ramblers on Saturday with a two-run homer.

Taylor Orsburn, SIU
Taylor Orsburn hit .333 and posted a 1.00 ERA in the weekend’s series with Indiana State. The senior posted a .667 slugging percentage on the weekend and hit a home run to help her own cause in SIU’s game two win over the Sycamores. In the same game, she pitched a complete game and allowed only one earned run to lower her ERA to an MVC-leading 2.27, which is 0.44 better than any other pitcher in the league. She ran her record in MVC games to a perfect 6-0 and posted a 2.62 ERA in MVC games, which is good for third in the league.

PITCHERS
Jordan Gronewold, Drake
Senior Jordan Gronewold pitched a gem in the circle for the Drake Bulldogs in her final home game. Gronewold tossed seven scoreless innings, scattering seven hits and striking out three as Drake rallied to beat Bradley, 5-4, in eight innings. She played a key role at the plate as well for the Bulldogs as she drew a one-out walk in the eighth inning, promptly stole second and later came around to score on Kaitlyn Finneran’s walk-off single. She entered the game in the second inning with two runners on base and the team trailing, 4-0. She earned her first win of the season and the 39th of her career, which ranks tied for ninth in school history. For the week, Gronewold pitched 14.2 innings, allowed six earned runs and struck out five.

Regan Romshek, Illinois State
Romshek followed up her MVC Pitcher of the Week honor from a week ago by going 1-1 with a 3.59 ERA in three starts last week. The sophomore finished the regular season atop the league leaderboard in wins (17), innings pitched (214.0), and ERA for pitchers used primarily as starters (2.71). Romshek began the week with her second-straight shutout against Drake, Monday. She went the distance, but suffered a loss, in the series-opener against Wichita State, Friday, before starting the series finale on Sunday against the league-champion Shockers.

Taylor Lockwood, Indiana State
Sophomore Taylor Lockwood closed out her first season as a Sycamore in dominating fashion as she was 1-1 with a save in the three-game series with Southern Illinois. Lockwood first pitched two hitless innings in the first game to get the save. The sophomore then won the series for the Sycamores in game three with a complete game, two hit shutout.

Erin Struemph, Missouri State
Struemph stepped up when the Bears needed it most, winning both games on the weekend to get MSU into the MVC Tournament. She picked up the win in game one, eliminating host-Evansville from tournament contention, with 5.1 good innings. In the start, she struck out eight Purple Aces. In the nightcap, she closed out the bottom of the sixth striking out one of the two hitters she faced while stranding both inherited runners. On Sunday, she entered in the third inning of a tied game with a trip to the MVC Tournament at stake. The freshman shutdown the Evansville offense allowing just four hits over 4.2 innings of scoreless relief. She struck out four Aces, two to end innings with runners on base. On the week, Struemph went 2-0 with a 1.97 ERA and 13 strikeouts. She ended the regular season with the second-most strikeouts (147), the most strikeouts per game (6.92) and was the only MVC pitcher to strike out more batters (147) than hits allowed (146).

Jamie Fisher, UNI
Jamie Fisher capped her final regular season week as a Panther going 2-1 in the circle with a 3.11 ERA. Fisher drew three starts over the week tossing 18.0 innings. She surrendered 8 earned runs on 11 hits and tallied 13 strikeouts. The Iowa Hawkeye bats were able to collect the majority of Fisher’s hits but Jamie came out on top in the end with the win. Fisher settled in against the Ramblers going 1-1 while allowing five runs on five hits while tallying nine strikeouts.

Taylor Orsburn, Southern Illinois
Taylor Orsburn pitched a complete game and allowed only one earned run in SIU’s 6-2 in over Indiana State in the second game of the series. She lowered her overall ERA to an MVC-leading 2.27 and her MVC ERA to 2.62. She allowed two or fewer earned runs for the 20th time in 23 appearances this year and ran her MVC record to a perfect 6-0.

Katie Malone, Wichita State
Malone was a force for the Shockers on the mound in the final series of the regular season, leading Wichita State with a 2.80 ERA, allowing seven hits and fourruns, while striking out 12 in 10 innings. The freshman from Crete, Neb., slowed the Illinois State batters to a .194 average and led the Shockers in the final inning of game one, striking out back-to-back runners to hold the Redbirds and give Wichita State the 7-3 victory. Malone finishes the regular season with a 4.30 ERA and a 16-6 overall record going into the MVC Tournament, striking out a team-high 109 batters in 149.2 innings pitched.

NEWCOMERS
Susan Norris, Evansville
Freshman Susan Norris had one of the best weeks for the Aces, as she led the team to a 1-2 record against MVC rival Missouri State. In game one, Susan hit .281 with a double, a hit and a run scored in two at-bats. In the Aces win on Saturday, Susan hit .291 with two hits, a run and an RBI in three at-bats and on the series finale on Sunday, Norris had a double, an RBI and three hits at four at-bats, leading to a .306 batting average. Susan improved throughout the weekend and was the Aces most solid player in the infield. She hit .293 on the weekend and had a total of six hits and two runs.

Jordan de los Reyes, Illinois State
De los Reyes bounced back from a down week by reverting to the slugging form that she has shown all season long. The freshman hit .417 (5-for-12) last week with one home run, four RBI, one double, and one walk. De los Reyes finished the regular season leading ISU in home runs (11), RBI (44) and slugging percentage (.594). Against Drake, Monday, de los Reyes tallied a two-RBI double in the Redbirds’ 11-0. In the series-opener against league-champion Wichita State, Friday, de los Reyes hit a two-run homer that, at the time, gave ILS the lead. She went 2-for-4 in game two of the series, before tallying one hit in the series finale.

Taylor Lockwood, Indiana State
Sophomore Taylor Lockwood closed out her first season as a Sycamore in dominating fashion as she was 1-1 with a save in the three-game series with Southern Illinois. Lockwood first pitched two hitless innings in the first game to get the save. The sophomore then won the series for the Sycamores in game three with a complete game, two hit shutout.

Erin Struemph, Missouri State
Struemph stepped up when the Bears needed it most, winning both games on the weekend to get MSU into the MVC Tournament. She picked up the win in game one, eliminating host-Evansville from tournament contention, with 5.1 good innings. In the start, she struck out eight Purple Aces. In the nightcap, she closed out the bottom of the sixth striking out one of the two hitters she faced while stranding both inherited runners. On Sunday, she entered in the third inning of a tied game with a trip to the MVC Tournament at stake. The freshman shutdown the Evansville offense allowing just four hits over 4.2 innings of scoreless relief. She struck out four Aces, two to end innings with runners on base. On the week, Struemph went 2-0 with a 1.97 ERA and 13 strikeouts. She ended the regular season with the second-most strikeouts (147), the most strikeouts per game (6.92) and was the only MVC pitcher to strike out more batters (147) than hits allowed (146).

Rikki Alcaraz, UNI
Rikki Alcaraz has played a key role in the Panther offense all season long, continue that high level of play throughout this past week. Alcaraz went 6-for-14 at the plate putting together a .429 batting average and scored a trio of runs on her own. Alcaraz did plenty of her damage this week on the Iowa Hawkeyes going 3-for-4 with a double and a runner batted in while scoring three runs of her own. She kept the hits going on Saturday finding a pair of hits in the second game and one on Sunday against the Loyola Ramblers.

Merri Anne Patterson, Southern Illinois
Freshman Merri Anne Patterson led the Salukis with a .429 in last weekend’s series against Indiana State. The freshman posted an even .500 on-base percentage and slugged .571 on the weekend. She had three hits, a double and an RBI against the Sycamores and raised her season batting average to .283.