Softball Heads to Lincoln for Big Ten Tournament

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM The Boilermakers received the No. 10 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will face No. 7 seed Michigan State on  Thursday.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
The Boilermakers received the No. 10 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will face No. 7 seed Michigan State on Thursday.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

May 8, 2013

Complete Release in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

Bowlin Stadium ~ Lincoln, Neb.
Tournament Central: here
Live Stats: purduesports.com
Radio: Watch
TV (Saturday/Sunday): BTN

Thursday, May 9; 8 p.m. vs. Michigan State

Friday, May 10; 8 p.m. With a win Thursday/vs. Nebraska

Saturday, May 11; 5:30 p.m. vs. TBA

Sunday, May 12; 1 p.m. vs. TBA

A Bit About The Big Ten Tournament
The Big Ten Tournament pits all 12 teams in the league against each other in a single-elimination event. The four-day tournament, which returns to the schedule for the first time since 2008, is being played at Bowlin Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. Each of the top four seeds receive a bye, while the remainder of the bracket pits No. 5 vs. No. 12, No. 6 vs. No. 11, No. 7 vs. No. 10 and No. 8 vs. No. 9. The winners of each of those games advances to face the No. 4 seed, No. 1 seed, No. 3 seed and No. 2 respectively. Winners of Friday's games advance to a pair of semifinals on Saturday. The winner of the Big Ten Tournament's championship game on Sunday will receive the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

The Book on the Boilermakers
At First Glance: Purdue (22-31, 8-15 Big Ten) enters the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 10 seed and looking to snap a six-game losing streak. The team returns 15 players from its 2012 squad which posted a 31-22 mark, including a 13-10 Big Ten mark and sixth-place conference finish. Eight position starters and three starting pitchers return, while five newcomers join the roster. The Boilermakers are coached by Kim Maher, who is her eighth year with the team.

Last Time Out: The Boilermakers dropped its final three-game series of the regular season to Iowa, falling 4-3 (9 innings), 2-0 (8 innings) and 8-2. Purdue and Iowa tied with a .348 winning percentage, but the Hawkeyes earned the No. 9 seed due to head to head records.

Statistically Speaking: The Boilermakers are batting .268 on the season, led by a group of five battters hitting .250 or better. Outfielder Andie Varsho leads the way with a .411 average, 36 RBI, 32 runs, four home runs and 28 stolen bases. Second baseman Ashley Burkhardt boasts a .316 average with a team-best 39 runs, 12 RBI and 20 steals. Outfielder Maia Monchek (.300), outfielder Lindsey Rains (.294) and third baseman Tori Chiodo (.261) round out the group. Rains has scored 31 runs, driven in 19 RBI and added 25 stolen bases, while catcher Danielle Fletcher (.245) has driven in 30 RBI and tallied a team-leading six home runs. Eight different players have contributed to the Boilermakers' tally of 18 home runs. Purdue also is 119-for-146 in stolen base attempts.

Four pitchers are splitting time in the circle for Purdue. The group has combined for a 3.31 ERA and 218 strikeouts. Freshman Lilly Fecho (8-16) has struck out 104 batters in 154 innings, including nine complete games and two saves. Sophomore Lexy Moore (10-14) has struck out 91 batters in 158 innings, including a shutout, while sophomore Alex Whittemore (2-0) has struck out 18 in 28 innings. Senior Erika Petruzzi has issued five Ks in 16 innings of work, including a shutout.

Series Information
Michigan State (Purdue leads the series 26-17): The Boilermakers won the first meeting in the series with the Spartans on April 12, 1995, but MSU took the next four contests. The teams split the next six meetings, before Purdue posted four straight in 1998 and 1999. After trading wins for the next six games, MSU managed three straight wins followed by three in a row for Purdue. Michigan State swept the 2006 series, but it is has been nearly all Purdue since then. The Boilermakers have won 12 of the last 17, including a six-game streak from 2008 to 2011. MSU took two of the three games earlier this season in West Lafayette.

Nebraska (The series is tied 3-3): The Boilermakers won the first two meetings with the Huskers at the N.I.S.T tournament in Sunnyvale, Calif., in 1996 and 1999. Nebraska took a 4-3 decision in February at the Hillenbrand Invitational in Tucson, Ariz., and won the first two of the three game series in West Lafayette, April 20-21.

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

• They will snap a six-game losing streak.

• They will have won a Big Ten Tournament game for the second time in program history. The 2007 squad earned Purdue's first postseason win, snapping a string of five losses. Purdue fell to Minnesota in its lone game of the 2008 tournament.

• They will advance to Friday's game and play No. 2 seed Nebraska.

• They will move to 37-48-1 all-time in the month of May, including a 5-3 mark on May 9.

Scouting The Spartans
At First Glance: The Michigan State Spartans (24-24, 9-10 Big Ten) finished seventh in the league rankings. MSU returns 13 letterwinners, including 10 starters, from the 2012 team that went 11-42 including a 12th place Big Ten finish. The Spartans are coached by Jacquie Joseph, who is in her 20th year with the team.

Last Time Out: The Spartans took two of three games from Wisconsin last weekend, while also winning a midweek game against Eastern Michigan. MSU topped Wisconsin 9-4, lost 3-0 and bounced back with a 11-5 win to take the series.

Statistically Speaking: The Spartans boast a team batting average of .265, including six players with averages of .250 or better. Outfielder Kylene Hopkins leads the way with a .401 average, including a team-best 31 runs and two triples. Third baseman Jayme O'Bryant (.327), outfielder Alyssa McBride (.305), catcher Stephanie Sanders (.279), first baseman McKinzie Freimuth (.275) and designated player Sarah Bowling (.263) round out the group. O'Bryant has driven in 40 RBI and launched seven home runs, while Bowling (.263) had added 34 RBI and six home runs.

Junior Kelly Smith (17-15) has done the bulk of the pitching for the Spartans, and boasts a 2.87 ERA and 221 strikeouts in 200 innings, including six shutouts. Freshman Dani Goranson (6-8) has issued 66 Ks in 102 innings. Sophomore Carly Nielsen (1-0) and junior Cassee Layne (0-1) have combined for five strikeouts in 13 innings.

Hearing About the Huskers
At First Glance: The Nebraska Cornhuskers (39-12, 16-6 Big Ten) earned the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament wrapping up the regular season vs. Penn State on Monday. The Huskers return nine letterwinners, including six starters, from the 2012 team which went 33-22 and finished third in the Big Ten. Nebraska is coached by Rhonda Revelle, who is in her 21st year with the team.

Last Time Out: The Huskers went 2-1 against Penn State to wrap up the regular season. Nebraska took Saturday's game 3-1, fell 3-2 on Sunday and rebounded with a 2-0 win on Monday.

Statistically Speaking: Catcher Taylor Edwards (.348), shortstop Alicia Armstrong (.365), outfielder Brooke Thomason (.358) and outfielder Jordan Bettiol (.314) headline the Husker offense, while eight other players boast averages of .250 or better. Edwards has driven in a team-best 48 RBI with 12 home runs and 37 runs, while Thomason adds 45 RBI, seven home runs and 30 runs. Armstrong has launched three home runs and chipped in 27 runs. Pitcher Tatum Edwards (.295), designated player Dawna Tyson (.276), outfielder Kiki Stokes (.270) and third baseman Gabby Banda (.270) follow. Edwards has launched 10 home runs, while Tyson has added three. Stokes has scored a team-best 38 runs and stolen 12 bases. As a team, Nebraska is batting .292 with 52 home runs and 40 stolen bases.

Junior Tatum Edwards (25-8) and freshman Emily Lockman (14-4) have split the pitching duties for the Huskers. Edwards has struck out 181 batters in 194 innings with nine shutouts, a save and a 1.84 ERA. Lockman has issued 94 Ks in 136 innings, including four shutouts and a 1.75 ERA. Freshman Danica Bishop added five strikeouts and a save in eight innings of work. The staff owns a 1.80 ERA and is holding foes to a .205 average.

In The National Statistics
In the NCAA softball statistical rankings, the Boilermakers boast a spot among the Top 50 as a team. Purdue has swiped 2.21 stolen bases per game, ranking third nationally.

Individually, junior outfielder Andie Varsho ranks 51st in stolen bases per game (0.49) and 55th in batting average (.411). Junior outfielder Lindsey Rains ranks 61st in stolen bases per game (0.47). Freshman Lilly Fecho ranks 67th in walks allowed per seven innings (1.63) and 68th in saves (2).