Courtesy of Ball State Athletics
NOTE: Due to anticipated inclement weather, Ball State and Toledo will play a doubleheader Friday (1 p.m.) and a single game Saturday (TBD) at Scott Park.
GAME 54: Ball State at Toledo
Saturday, May 7 – Single Game at TBA
► THIS WEEK IN BALL STATE SOFTBALL: The Ball State softball team closes the regular season this weekend when it travels to Toledo for a pivotal three game Mid-American Conference series … Due to anticipated inclement weather, the Cardinals and Rockets will play a doubleheader Friday (1 p.m.) and a single game Saturday (TBD) at Scott Park.
► FOLLOW THE ACTION: Both of Friday’s games are slated to be broadcast live on ESPN3 … Live stats will be available for all three games this weekend at BallStateSports.com/livestats … Fans can also get regular updates by following the team on Twitter: @BallStateSB, Instagram: @BallStateSB and Facebook: BallStateSoftball.
► WHERE WE STAND: Entering the final week of the regular season, the Cardinals are 1.5 games back in the race for one of eight spots in the upcoming MAC Tournament … If Ball State goes 3-0 this weekend, it can earn a spot in the MAC Tournament with either Buffalo (vs. Miami) or Central Michigan (vs. Northern Illinois) losing their weekend series … The Cardinals could also make the tournament with a 2-1 weekend, but would need Buffalo, Central Michigan and either Western Michigan or Eastern Michigan (who play each other) to be swept … Weather could also play a factor in the standings, as rain is expected to impact most of the conference games Saturday.
► CARDINALS ALL-TIME: With a 22-29 record so far in 2016, Ball State enters Friday’s doubleheader at Toledo with a 943-988-4 (.488) all-time record in 41-plus seasons of play … Established as a varsity program in 1975, Ball State has won five Mid-American Conference regular season titles (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014), six MAC West Division crowns (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015), three MAC Tournament championships (1998, 2010 and 2015) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times (1998, 2010 and 2015).
► SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Ball State has won four of its last five games, including sweeping Western Michigan last weekend … Senior Sammi Cowger paces the Cardinals during the span with a .500 batting average, while senior Emily Dabkowski is second at .400 … In the circle, sophomore Carolyn Wilmes is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA over the last five games, allowing just three earned runs and holding opponents to a .255 average over the span.
► ALL-TIME VS. TOLEDO: While Ball State holds a 54-41 lead in the all-time series, Toledo has won two of the last three games between the two teams … Ball State won 19 straight in the series until a 6-4 Toledo win April 6, 2014 … Last season, Ball State won the first game of an April 10 doubleheader at Toledo by a score of 1-0 … The Rockets battled back to take the nightcap 8-7 … With the split, the Cardinals maintain a slim 24-23 advantage in road games in the series.
BALL STATE SOFTBALL STORY LINES
► The Cardinals played the first 32 games of the 2016 season on the road, which is the longest stretch of road games in program history … Entering this season, the longest previous road swing was a 31-game stint to open the 2012 campaign.
► Since the beginning of the 2009 season, Ball State has proven to be the MAC’s premier program by compiling a 117-44 (.727) league record … Kent State is second on the list during the same time frame with a 109-54 (.669) record … This weekend’s opponent Toledo is 12th at 54-118 (.314).
► Ball State will be looking for its first road win in league action this weekend when it travels to Toledo … The Cardinals are currently 0-8 in MAC road games … Toledo is 8-8 in home games this season, including 4-8 in league action, but has won seven straight at Scott Park as part of its current 10-game winning streak.
► Ball State’s seniors came through in a big way in their final home series, led by Sammi Cowger who paced the offense with a .625 average … Emily Dabkowski was named a MAC West Division Co-Player of the Week after driving in the game-winning run in Friday’s second game, while scoring the eventual game winner in Saturday’s contest … She hit .556 on the weekend with team-highs of four RBIs and four runs scored … Selena Reyna drove in the game-winning run in the opener with a ninth-inning, two-out RBI double … Nicole Steinbach went 2-0 in the circle with a 2.92 ERA and logged 10 strikeouts, while Kelsey Schifferdecker held WMU two a pair of hits and no runs in her one appearance.
► With a pair of wins in the circle last weekend versus Western Michigan, senior pitcher Nicole Steinbach took over sole possession of third on Ball State’s career wins list … Steinbach, who owns a 64-50 career record, is just the fourth pitcher in program history to record 50-or-more wins … Her 50th career win came when she guided Ball State to a 3-2 victory over UAB (Feb. 14) to close play in the Sand Dollar Classic earlier this season.
► When she struck out the second batter in last Friday’s series opener versus Western Michigan (April 29), Nicole Steinbach became the fourth player in program history and the 29th in MAC annals to reach 500 career strikeouts … Steinbach finished the weekend with 10 strikeouts to raise her career total to 509 which ranks 32nd among all active NCAA Division I players.
► With her first save of the 2016 season in the second game victory over Ohio (April 2), Nicole Steinbach took over sole possession of the Ball State program record for career saves with her ninth.
► Nicole Steinbach has made 139 career appearances in the circle for the Cardinals, with her 100th coming in the 2015 NCAA Regional opener versus No. 21 Notre Dame … She guided Ball State to its first-ever NCAA regional win by limiting the Fighting Irish to six hits and two earned runs to earn the complete game victory.
► Senior pitcher Kelsey Schifferdecker also looks to continue her climb up the Ball State record books, as she enters the week ranked seventh in program history with 36 career pitching victories … Schifferdecker, who owns a 36-18 career record, has been particularly dominating in MAC play, with a 15-4 record in conference action.
► Senior Emily Dabkowski has started the last 162 games for the Cardinals … Dabkowski started all 111 games over the 2014 and 2015 seasons at second base … This season, she has started the first 51 games at shortstop.
► A 2015 First Team All-MAC selection, Emily Dabkowski is Ball State’s active career home run leader and ranks fourth in program history with 31 career blasts … She is also fifth in program history with a .594 career slugging percentage, while her 139 runs scored are tied for fifth and her 137 RBIs are seventh … In addition, she currently holds the 13th-best career batting average in program history at .324.
► Emily Dabkowski enters the weekend tied for sixth in the MAC with 24 extra base hits this season … She is tied for the league lead with four triples, is tied for 13th in the conference with 10 doubles and is tied for seventh in the MAC with nine home runs.
► Senior Sammi Cowger continues to be one of the more versatile players on the Cardinals roster, starting at either first base or in right field in the last seven games … A .252 career batter, Cowger ranks 18th in program history with seven career home runs … In addition, she has been hit by a pitch 17 times over her career, which is fifth on Ball State’s career charts … Cowger is also one of only 26 players in program history to record a pitching save, as she has made 12 career appearances in the circle.
► Senior outfielder Selena Reyna enters the week ranked fifth in program history with 44 career doubles … She needs eight more doubles to move past Amanda Carpenter’s (2010-13) career total of 51 for fourth on Ball State’s all-time list … Reyna, who is seventh in program history with 22 career home runs, is 13th on Ball State’s career charts with a .484 slugging percentage … She also moved into 10th in program history in both runs scored (108) and RBI (102) last weekend.
► Freshman Madison Lee made the most of her first career at bat versus No. 25 South Alabama (Feb. 13), splitting the outfielders in left-center field for a pinch hit double … Since then, Lee has started the last 47 games as either the designated player, catcher or first baseman … In her first at bat versus No. 24 Texas (Feb. 19), Lee blasted her first career home run in the top of the second to tie the game at 1-1 at the time … Overall, Lee is first on team with a .356 (47-for-132) batting average and is tied for sixth in the MAC with 24 walks for a team-best .459 on-base percentage … In the win over Valpo (Feb. 28), Lee drove in her first career game-winning RBI with a two-run double.
► Sophomore Carolyn Wilmes has found her rhythm in the circle as of late, earning a pair of complete game victories in her last two starts … Over 14.0 innings of work, Wilmes has limited opponents to 13 hits and a .255 batting average … She has allowed just three earned runs, while striking out five batters.
► Ball State’s favorite jersey to wear this season appears to be home white, as the Cardinals are 10-10 this season in their white tops … The Cardinals are 3-5 in red tops, while owning an 9-14 mark in black jerseys.