Game Notes 8: Michigan State

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Purdue will make its 2014 debut at the Boilermaker Softball Complex against Michigan State this weekend, although the Boilers will be the designated visiting team.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Purdue will make its 2014 debut at the Boilermaker Softball Complex against Michigan State this weekend, although the Boilers will be the designated visiting team.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

March 27, 2014

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WEST LAFAYTETTE, Ind. -

The Slate
Boilermaker Softball Complex - West Lafayette, Ind.
Live Stats: purduesports.com
Radio:Listen

Friday, March 28
4 p.m. vs. Michigan State

Saturday, March 29
1 p.m. vs. Michigan State

Sunday, March 23
1 p.m. vs. Michigan State

The Book on the Boilermakers
At First Glance: Purdue (16-16-1) will open home action on Friday after spending the first seven weeks of the season on the road. The team returns 17 players from its 2013 squad which posted a 21-32 mark, an 8-14 Big Ten mark and Big Ten Tournament second round appearance. Seven position starters and three starting pitchers return, while five newcomers join the roster. Head coach Kim Schuette is in her first season with the Boilermakers after spending the last eight years as head coach at Eastern Illinois.

Last Time Out: The Boilermakers are in the midst of a six-game win streak, including a 4-0 record last week. Purdue topped UCF 2-1 on Tuesday in its spring break finale, then swept Penn State to open Big Ten play. The Boilers defeated the Nittany Lions 10-3, 9-2 and 13-4 in University Park, Pa. The team also beat the Dutch National Team 8-6 in a Wednesday exhibition game.

Statistically Speaking: Outfielder Andie Varsho (.465) leads the Boilermaker bats with a .465 average, 27 runs, 10 doubles and 16 stolen bases. Six other starters are batting .250 or better. Catcher Danielle Fletcher (.366), first baseman Ashley Burkhardt (.349), infielder Tori Chiodo (.333), catcher/designated player Katy McJunkin (.309), outfielder Maia Monchek (.286) and outfielder Lindsey Rains (.262) round out the group. Burkhardt has driven in a team-best 28 RBI and boasts nine doubles and six home runs. Fletcher has added six homers and 22 RBI. Chiodo has driven in 21 RBI and scored 19 runs, while also launching three home runs and stealing seven bases. Rains adds 18 RBI, 15 runs and two homers. Second baseman Mary Gooding (.260), shortstop Kristen Hoppman (.260) and outfielder/DP Gabi Brown (.250) are also batting above .250 with limited at-bats. As a team, the Boilers are batting .309 with 19 home runs and 43 stolen bases.

In the circle, the Purdue staff has combined for 184 strikeouts in 214 innings. Sophomore Lilly Fecho (12-8) has done the bulk of the pitching, striking out 126 batters in 125 innings, including 18 complete games. Junior Lexy Moore (2-7) has added 33 Ks in 47 innings, while junior Alex Whittemore has issued 14 Ks in 24 innings, including a complete-game no-hitter. Senior Lauren Grant has struck out 11 batters in 16 innings.

Series Information
Michigan State (Purdue leads the series 28-19): Purdue won the first meeting in the series with the Spartans, taking a 4-1 decision on April 12, 1995. MSU won the next four contests, but the Boilers responded with seven of the next 10. The teams split the next six contests from 2000 to 2002. The teams traded three-game win streaks over the next three seasons. Purdue has won 14 of the last 20 since 2007, including six straight from 2008 to 2011. The Boilers are 15-8 vs. MSU in West Lafayette, 10-9 in East Lansing and 3-2 in neutral contests.

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

• They will move to 17-16-1 on the season and extend their current win streak to seven games.

• They will win their home opener for the seventh time in the last eight seasons and the 17th time in program history.

• The will win their first Big Ten home game for the seventh time in the last eight seasons.

• It would move the team's record to 183-138 all-time in home games, including a 83-111 record in conference contests.

• They will move to 261-171-2 all-time in the month of March, including a 7-4 mark when playing on March 28.

Scouting The Spartans
At First Glance: The Michigan State Spartans (7-18) were slated to play a Tuesday game with Western Michigan, but the game was cancelled due to field conditions. The Spartans return 12 letterwinners, including six starters, from the 2013 team that posted a 24-25 record and finished seventh in the Big Ten. Michigan State is coached by Jacquie Joseph, who is in her 21st year with the team.

Last Time Out: Michigan State dropped all three games of its Big Ten opening series against Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. The Spartans fell 13-5, 11-7 and 4-3 in the Friday/Saturday affair.

Statistically Speaking: Three players are batting .250 or better to lead the Spartan offense. First baseman McKinzie Freimuth (.264), outfielder Kassidy Kujawa (.262) and infielder Sarah Gutknecht (.253) make up the group, while outfielder Stephanie Sanders is batting .286 with limited plate appearances. Gutknecht leads the team with 18 RBI, four home runs and five doubles to go with eight runs. Sanders adds 11 RBI, while Kujawa has registered 10 RBI, two home runs and four runs. Freimuth has scored nine runs and added two triples. Outfielder Alyssa McBride (.180) has scored a team-leading 10 runs and stolen three bases. As a team, MSU is batting .219 with 11 home runs and 14 stolen bases.

Senior Kelly Smith (2-7) and freshman Valerie Kaff (3-8) have split the bulk of the pitching duties. Smith has struck out 43 batters in 64 innings, including a shutout and two saves, while Kaff has issued 40 Ks in 63 innings. Freshman Kristina Zalewski (2-3) has added seven struckouts in 33 innings. The staff is allowing opponents a .312 average.

Chiodo Named Big Ten Player of the Week
Senior infielder Tori Chiodo was named as the Big Ten Player of the Week after leading the Boilermaker bats in four wins last week. The Sylmar, Calif., native posted a .778 average, including an .833 mark in Big Ten play, reaching base in 15 of her 17 plate appearances. She drove in a team-best 11 RBI, while boasting a 1.556 slugging percentage and an .882 on-base percentage. The senior drew eight walks and posted three multi-hit efforts and three perfect days at the plate.

Chiodo drove in the game-winning RBI in a 2-1 win over UCF to wrap Purdue's spring break swing through Florida. She continued her hot hitting with a 2-for-2 effort, including a home run and a double, as well as the game winning RBI (on a three-run homer) and three walks in the opener against Penn State. The senior drove in the game-winner in Game 2 of the PSU series with a three-run bomb in the third inning. In the series finale, the infielder scored three runs and drew three walks after getting a first-inning single.

In the Big Ten series, the senior went 5-for-6 with two home runs and a double to go with seven walks for a league leading .833 average. Her conference slugging percentage is 2.000 and on-base percentage stands at .923, both of which are Big Ten bests. Her 10 RBI and seven walks also are tops in the conference after opening weekend, while her seven runs scored are second only to teammate Andie Varsho.

This is the first Big Ten Player of the Week honor for Chiodo and the first for a Boilermaker since Ashley Burkhardt received Co-Player of the Week accolades on Feb. 18.

Among The Nation
The Boilermakers rank 26th nationally in doubles per game (1.55) and 42nd in batting average (.309). Individually, senior Andie Varsho ranks among the national top 60 in three categories: batting average (19th with .465), on-base percentage (16th with .557) and stolen bases (55th with 0.48 per game). Junior Ashley Burkahrdt ranks 13th nationally in sacrifice flies (3). Senior Maia Monchek ranks 31st in sacrifice bunts per game (0.27). Sophomore pitcher Lilly Fecho is 23rd nationally in strikeouts (127), 33rd in wins (12) and 51st in shutouts (3).

In the Record Books
Junior first baseman Ashley Burkhardt tied the school record for home runs in a game with two in Game 2 against Coastal Carolina on Feb. 14. The effort marked the 22nd time a Boilermaker has achieved the feat. Burkhardt becomes the 16th individual to do so.

Senior outfielder Andie Varsho tied the school game record for hits with a 5-for-5 effort against Bryant on March 14. Two other players have recorded five hits in a game: Angi Roembke (5-for-5) vs. Indiana, 4/14/02 and Molly Garst (5-for-6) vs. Troy, 2/26/12. Varsho had four singles, a double and two RBI in the contest.

Varsho tied the school record for doubles in a game with three in Game 3 of the series with Penn State, March 22. The effort matches that of Andrea Hillsey, who registered three doubles against Texas A&M Corpus Christi on March 3, 2002.

The Boilermakers posted 17 hits in the contest with Bryant, matching the second highest tally in program history. Purdue teams have posted a record 18 hits in a game six times and have managed 17 hit tallies seven other times last on April 17, 2007.

Purdue drew a school record 11 walks in Game 1 of the series with Penn State on March 21. The 11 free passes surpassed the previous record mark of nine, which had been recorded in five contests, last vs. Penn State on March 31, 2012.

Climbing the Career Records List
A handful of records are in danger of falling in 2014 as seniors Danielle Fletcher and Andie Varsho already own spots among the career Top 5 and Lindsey Rains is approaching the Top 5 in two categories. Varsho is just eight hits away from the school record. She is now tied for fifth in runs scored (127) and is just one walk from the fifth-place spot in that category. Rains is one run away from the matching Varsho's run output and three steals out of the Top 5. Fletcher is in striking distance of the Top 5 in doubles, RBI and walks.

A Tough Slate
The Boilermakers will face tough foes in 2014, including 10 teams ranked or receiving votes in the preseason Top 25. Purdue will play eight games against the Top 25: No. 5 Michigan twice, No. 6 Alabama, No. 10 Texas, No. 15 Florida State twice, No. 18 Baylor and No. 23 Georgia. The team also will take on vote-getters in Auburn, Houston (twice), and Wisconsin (three times) boosting the tally to 15 games against ranked foes or those receiving votes.

The first NCAA RPI report was released on Tuesday and the Boilermakers have taken on five teams listed among the top of that report. The RPI report lists teams by strength of opponent schedules. Among Purdue opponents atop the list are: Georgia (No. 1), Alabama (No. 2), Florida State (No. 4), Baylor (No. 10), Louisiana-Lafayette (No. 20) and Auburn (No. 21). Purdue comes in at No. 66 on the initial listing. Ahead on the team's slate during the conference campaign are Michigan (No. 5) and Minnesota (No. 17).