Game Notes: Softball vs. Michigan State

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Sophomore Andie Varsho will take her team-best .420 batting average into Big Ten play against Michigan State this weekend.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Sophomore Andie Varsho will take her team-best .420 batting average into Big Ten play against Michigan State this weekend.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

March 22, 2012

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -

The Slate
Saturday, March 24 - 1 p.m. vs. Michigan State (DH)
Promotions: Home Run Derby/Postgame Picnic - The first 10 students to register at the promotions gazebo will be eligible to compete in the home run derby after the second game. The winner will receive a $50 Best Buy gift card and a bat.
Live Stats: GameTracker at purduesports.com
Radio: purduesports.com, 1410 WSHY AM

Sunday, March 25 - 1 p.m. vs. Michigan State
Promotions: Humane Society Day. Patrons showing a picture of their pet will get in for the reduced price of $1.
Live Stats: GameTracker at purduesports.com
Radio: purduesports.com, 1410 WSHY AM

The Book on the Boilermakers
At First Glance: A Purdue squad (15-9) featuring 12 returning players and seven newcomers opens its 2012 home and Big Ten campaigns against Michigan State this weekend. Eight position starters and three starting pitchers return from the 2011 squad which finished 30-18-2 and fifth in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers are coached by Kim Maher, who is her seventh year with the team.

Last Time Out: The Boilermakers went 3-3 on the second half of their spring break swing through California. Purdue split games with Butler (W 3-0) and Fresno State (L 5-2) in Fresno, with Cal State Fullerton (W 8-6) and BYU (L 14-1) in Fullerton, and with San Diego State (W 6-5) and UNLV (L 6-2) in San Diego. Head coach Kim Maher picked up her 200th career win vs. Fullerton.

Statistically Speaking: The Boilermakers boast a .328 team batting average, including six batters hitting at a .300 or better clip. Outfielder Andie Varsho (.420), outfielder Lindsey Rains (.397) and infielder Ashley Courtney (.371) lead the way. Rains boasts a team-best 19 RBI and 19 runs as well as 14 stolen bases and two home runs. Varsho has scored 18 runs, posted 15 RBI and stolen 10 bases. Shortstop Molly Garst (.364), catcher Danielle Fletcher (.352) and second baseman Ashley Burkhardt (.333) also are batting over .300. Garst has scored 18 runs and stolen a team-best 15 bases. Fletcher has launched three home runs and scored 18 runs, while four other players have posted two home runs: Rains, Courtney, third baseman Tori Chiodo (.293) and utility player Erika Petruzzi (.246). All told, Purdue is averaging nearly six runs per game with 53 extra base hits and 58 steals, while also drawing 93 walks.

Freshman Lexy Moore (10-2) leads the way in the circle, striking out 48 batters in 74 innings and posting a 2.81 ERA. Freshman Alex Whittemore (2-3) has struck out 18 in 27 innings. Senior Katie Hackney (2-2) has issued 17 Ks in 24 innings, while junior Erika Petruzzi (1-2) has struck out 10 in 21 innings.

Series Information
Michigan State (Purdue leads 23-17): The Spartans won four of the first five meetings in the series with the Boilermakers, which began on April 12, 1995. The teams split the next six contests before Purdue won four in a row. The series was tied 10-10 after the 2002 season. MSU then won three of the next four. Since April 24, 2004, Purdue has taken 12 of the last 16 games. The Boilermakers ended a string of six straight victories in game 2 of the May 11, 2011 doubleheader. Purdue is 11-6 against the Spartans in West Lafayette.

What a Difference a Win Makes ...
If the Boilermakers top Michigan State on Saturday...

• They will have won their sixth home opener in seven tries under head coach Kim Maher, and posted the 16th home opening victory in program history (15-3).

• They will have won their second-straight conference opener and move to 11-7 all-time in Big Ten openers, including a 5-2 mark under head coach Kim Maher.

• They will move to 237-154-2 all-time in the month of March, including an 12-2 mark on March 24.

• It would move the team's record to 144-202-1 all-time in conference games, including a 71-103 mark when playing Big Ten games at home.

Scouting The Spartans
At First Glance: The Michigan State Spartans (10-16) are looking to build on a three-game win streak as conference play opens. The Spartans return 13 letterwinners, including nine starters from the 2011 team which posted a 27-27 mark and finished ninth in the Big Ten. MSU is coached by Jacquie Joseph, who is in her 19th year with the team.

Last Time Out: The Spartans went 3-1 at the Hoosier Classic in Bloomington, Ind., last weekend. MSU fell to Central Michigan to start the tournament, but rebounded with wins over Illinois-Chicago, North Dakota and Wright State.

Statistically Speaking: Second baseman Stephanie Sanders leads the Spartans with a .438 average in 32 at-bats, including 15 RBI, four home runs and four doubles. Outfielder Kylene Hopkins (.382), catcher Mary Kat DiVirgilio (.353), outfielder Lori Padilla and third baseman Jayme O'Bryant (.277) also are batting above .250. DiVirgilio has driven in 19 RBI, while Padilla has scored a team-best 19 runs. Hopkins has added 15 runs and a team-best nine stolen bases. Outfielder Ali Grant (.246) has chipped in 15 RBI, 15 runs and two home runs. MSU is batting .262 with 11 home runs and 32 stolen bases.

Freshman Carly Nielsen (3-7) and sophomore Cassee Layne (4-5) have done the bulk of the pitching for the Spartans. Layne has struck out 39 batter in 61 innings, while Nielsen has added 32 Ks in 60 innings and picked up three saves. Junior Shelby Wise (3-3) has struck out 10 batters in 25 innings, while senior Rebecca Rogers (0-1) has issued six Ks in 10 innings. The MSU staff has allowed opposing batters a .351 average and 30 home runs.

Among The Nation's Statistical Leaders
The Boilermakers rank among the national top 50 in six statistical categories. The team is sixth in stolen bases per game (2.42), 19th in batting average (.328), 22nd in double plays per game (0.46), 31st in scoring (5.79 runs per game), 37th in doubles per game (1.42) and 40th in slugging percentage (.459).

Individually, senior Molly Garst ranks 21st in stolen bases per game (0.63) and sophomore Lindsey Rains ranks 30th in steals (0.58). Freshman pitcher Lexy Moore ranks 37th with 10 victories.

Impacting The Record Books
Junior second baseman Ashley Courtney tied the game record for walks with three in the season opener with Bryant. She matched the feat against UT-Martin, Feb. 24. The latter three-walk effort was the 19th in program history.

Senior shortstop Molly Garst tied two game records at the Frost Classic, posting five hits against Troy and swiping three bases against Niagara. The five-hit tally matched Angi Roembke's 5-for-5 effort against Indiana in 2002. The steals tally tied the record which has been achieved 20 times in program history, including seven times by Garst. Garst also adds to her career record stolen base tally with each steal. She has 15 steals in 2012, moving the record number to 117.

Sophomore outfielder Lindsey Rains tied the record for steals in a game with three against South Alabama.

The Boilermakers posted a record-tying 18 hits against Troy, matching the mark which has been achieved four times prior, last against IUPUI in 2011. Purdue posted a game-record tying three triples against Niagara, matching the output from the March 6, 1994, game vs. UNC-Wilmington. The Boilermakers earned a record-tying nine walks against UT-Martin on March 24, matching a mark achieved three previous times, once in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Garst is just two runs away from the career top five in the category. She has scored 122 times, just two away from Shahara "Skeeter" Nixon's fifth-place spot of 124 (1997-2000).The senior has tallied 200 hits, just 11 out of 5th place on that career listing. She also has tallied nine triples, just one shy of the fourth-place mark of 10, which has been achieved by four different players.

Win #200
Head coach Kim Maher earned her 200th victory as leader of the Purdue program when the team posted an 8-6 victory over Cal State Fullerton, March 14. The Boilermakers have registered six-straight non-losing seasons under Maher, including two NCAA Tournament berths. Maher recorded her 100th win against Pacific on Feb. 8, 2009.