Softball Concludes Regular Season at Evansville - 5/3-5/4

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The Sycamore Level
Softball wraps up the regular season with a 3 game series at Cooper Stadium in Evansville. Games can be followed via LiveStats at the Aces website, or you can get Live Audio from W-UEV also for the entire weekend.
With a single victory this weekend, softball guarantees a spot in next week's MVC Tournament in Carbondale. The Sycamores can also get in through the back door if they are swept and neither Bradley sweeps Southern Illinois nor Northern Iowa sweeps Illinois State. If ISU wins the series with Evansville, we will pass them in the standings. Other than the #1 seed (which Creighton gets outright with a win this weekend), the other seeds are all up in the air. The other thing a win will do this weekend for ISU is give the softball program its third consecutive 20 win season. To give you an idea of where this program is coming from, the last time ISU softball had 3 consecutive 20 or more win seasons was from 1988-1990.
The 2008 squad has already established numbers that will qualify in the top 10 all-time record books for a season in five different categories: Homeruns (1st), Slugging Percentage (currently 2nd), Pitching Strikeouts (currently 5th), RBIs (currently 8th), and Doubles (currently tied for 10th). Jr. Meredith Simpson has set the individual season record for HRs with 10 so far, and in so doing has also become the new career record holder with 15 so far.

Current MVC Standings
1. Creighton 18-3, 40-14
2. Illinois State 15-6, 26-18
3. Southern Illinois 12-8, 27-23
4. Drake 11-9, 24-23
5. Missouri State 11-10, 25-18
6. Wichita State 12-11, 31-25
7. Evansville 8-12, 22-20
8. Indiana State 7-13, 19-26-1
9. Northern Iowa 4-14, 19-26
10. Bradley 4-16, 12-24

Final Weekend Match-ups:
Indiana State at Evansville
Missouri State at Creighton
Illinois State at Northern Iowa
Southern Illinois at Bradley
Wichita State at Drake


The Sycamore Level
Sycamores drop both ends of the Saturday DH 3-0 and 4-3. Both tight games that fell apart late. I was in Evansville, and the box scores are a mess - not real close to what happened. Katie Armour actually pitched Game 1 (box score has McCurdy pitching) and Sycamores had lots of opportunities to score. Aces finally broke through in the bottom of the 5th with an RBI single by the league's leading hitter Brittany Herald. Sycamores had her out, however, on a pop foul by third that ISU 3b Audrey Childress lost in the sun - the ball almost landed on top of her as she ducked out of the way. That should have been the 3rd out, then 2 pitches later she rips it up the middle for Evansville to score. Our best hitter - Meredith Simpson - didn't get on base the entire game. Lots of balls in play - as neither pitcher walks anyone and Armour strikes out 1 with the Evansville pitcher striking out 2. Sycamores hit the ball hard the entire game - mostly right to the Aces. Evansville outfield also made a couple of very nice diving catches that saved runs.
Game 2 was McCurdy, and errors cost ISU in this one. ISU outhits the Aces 8-4 in the contest, but allows 4 unearned runs to lose 4-3. ISU also strands 9 runners on base. They do add to their record setting HR total, as Sr. Kelsey Anderson hits her 3rd of the season and the 33 for the team this year. Aces use 3 pitchers in the contest.
Even with the results, ISU has secured the 8th and final spot to the MVC Tourney next week in Carbondale with losses by Bradley and UNI yesterday. Bradley was swept by SIU; UNI made things interesting at home against Illinois State. The Panthers scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 7th of game 1 of their DH to win 5-4 over the Redbirds - then in game 2, the Panthers were down 8-3 in the 6th inning. They got a single run in the 6th - then 2 more in the 7th to cut it to 8-6. Game ended with runners on 1st and 2nd and the winning run at the plate - but Illinois State holds on for the 8-6 win.
Sycamores can finish no better than 8th now. They will play the 5 seed in the opening round. That will be the loser of today's Drake/Wichita State contest. Winner of that game will get 4th. If the Sycamores win the 8-5 matchup, they would then play the 4 seed.
Today's game also available on audio from Evansville - link posted in the first post.


The Odum Level
ISU lost again, 9 straight losses heading into the MVC tourney can't bode well for ISU. What the heck happened to the team that won 8 straight??