Truman State softball starts MIAA tournament play Thursday

The Truman softball team heads to Overland Park, Kan., this Thursday through Saturday for the 2013 MIAA tournament. The event, held at the Blue Valley Recreation Complex, opens at 6:00 pm on Thursday night as the 6th-seeded Bulldogs take on the No. 3 seed Missouri Western.

The Bulldogs (28-16, 16-12 MIAA) will then play again at 8:00 pm, facing either No. 2 Fort Hays (Kan.) State or No. 7 Pittsburg (Kan.) State in the winnerâ??s or consolation bracket.

Truman punched its ticket to the tournament for the first time since 2010 with a 3-1 weekend in the Sunflower State, sweeping Washburn by scores of 20-1 and 12-4 and splitting with Emporia (Kan.) State by scores of 5-0 (loss) and 1-0 (win).

The Bulldogs enter the tournament having won six of their last seven games, dating back to a five-inning, run-rule win on April 20 against top-seeded Central Oklahoma.

This weekend will mark the final MIAA tournament in program history as well, with the Truman athletic department re-aligning to the Great Lakes Valley Conference on July 1.

Truman News & Notes:

· The Bulldogs come into the MIAA tournament hitting .320 as a team, with a team ERA of 3.23 and a fielding percentage of .959.

· Truman has already broken the school record for home runs in a season, totaling 50 in 44 games this season. The previous record was 47, set in 2004.

· The Bulldogs are also on pace to smash the previous slugging percentage single-season record (.494 in 2013; .454 in 2012 was previous-high) and batting average (.320 in 2013; .313 in 2012 was previous-high). Truman needs nine runs to tie the school record for runs in a season (272 in 2004).

· Freshman Kindra Henze was named the Truman ROTC Athlete of the Week after going 2-0 with a 0.54 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in two starts last week.

· The Bulldogs are 9-3 in neutral-site games this season.

· Truman has three wins against top-25 opponents this season, including current No. 1 Indianapolis, and then-No. 25 Missouri Western.

· Kristin Grossman leads the Bulldogs with 15 multi-hit and 10 multi-RBI games this season.

· Liz Leath holds both the longest hitting streak (13) and longest reached-base streak (18) this season.

· Three Bulldogs â?? Grossman, Corey Niblett and Cate Simon â?? have started all 44 games this season. Both Grossman (1B) and Niblett (SS) have manned the same positions all year, while Simon has caught two games and played at third base the other 42.

Missouri Western Scouting Report:

· Missouri Western (36-14, 20-8 MIAA) comes into the MIAA tournament having gone 2-2 last weekend at Northeastern (Okla.) State and Central Oklahoma.

· The Griffons are 11-5 in neutral-site games this season.

· Four players hit better than .340 offensively, led by Maegan Roemmichâ??s .388 batting average. Tiffany Gillaspy (.346 AVG) leads the team with 12 doubles and 42 RBI, while Keri Lorbert is the team leader with 13 home runs.

· Jackie Bishop will likely get the start in the circle against the Bulldogs, having compiled a 20-6 record with a 1.61 ERA on the season. She has 204 strikeouts and 51 walks this year.

· MWSUâ??s mascot is a Griffon. It is a hybrid, mythical creature with the body/tail/back of a lion, the head/wings of an eagle, and an eagleâ??s talons as its front feet.

Bulldog MIAA Tournament History:

Since 1998, Truman is 32-21 (.604) in 53 career games at the neutral-site event, capturing titles in 2000, 2002 and 2003.

The Bulldogs are in search of their first MIAA tournament victory since the 2007 season, having gone 0-2 in both 2008 and 2010 â?? the last two appearances.

Regional Ranking Outlook:

Wednesday will mark the third and final set of regional rankings prior to Mondayâ??s selection show, with the Bulldogs sitting 10th each of the past two weeks.

The top eight teams from the region will be selected to the NCAA-II tournament, beginning next weekend at campus sites.

The winner of the MIAA tournament receives an automatic bid to the national tournament.

Five MIAA teams were in the top-10 last week, with FHSU (No. 1), UCO (No. 6), MWSU (No. 8) and ESU (No. 9) joining Truman.

Truman has six wins against teams that are regionally-ranked nationwide, having earned victories against UCO, MWSU and ESU from the Central, as well as Indianapolis (Midwest No. 1), Missouri-St. Louis (Midwest No. 3) and Wayne (Mich.) State (Midwest No. 10).

Courtesy Truman State Univerity