Figure I'd take a stab at these over the coming days to get you, our loyal RMN readers, more in tune with what the Mizzou Softball team has in store this coming weekend at the Columbia Regional. Today, we will continue our look at the other three teams in the double-elimination tournament with the #4 seed in the regional, and a team which Mizzou might not (and hopefully will not) play, the Bradley Braves
Overall, the Braves finished the regular season at 25-26 with a 12-12 record in The Valley conference. They went 13-9 at home, 6-13 on the road and 6-4 at neutral sites. Their RPI is 109th per Warren Nolan RPI (which was updated through this past weekend). They did not run-rule anyone, nor were they run-ruled this season, and played in five extra-inning games where they went 4-1.
- Iowa State - Bradley lost 5-3, Mizzou split (winning 5-0 and losing 4-3)
- Western Illinois - Bradley won 5-1, Mizzou wins 2-1 and 13-1 in 5 innings
- kansas - Bradley won 2-0, Mizzou split (winning 8-0 in 6 innings and losing 4-1)
- Northern Iowa - Bradley went 3-1 (winning 9-8 and 7-3, then losing 1-0 and finally winning 4-2 in the playoffs), Mizzou won 2-1
- SIU-E - Bradley was swept 4-1 and 5-1, Mizzou split (winning and losing 2-0)
- SIU - Bradley went 1-3 (losing 5-3, 6-2 and 5-0, but winning 5-3 in the playoffs), Mizzou won 9-1 in 5 innings
- SMS - Bradley swept (5-3, 6-1 and 2-0), Mizzou won 5-0
Bradley took on a few decent teams in the non-conference season, with some namely losses coming at the hands of #17 Louisville (2-1) and #6 Michigan (3-0). Their biggest win in the non-conference slate came against #95 kansas. The squad finished at 13-14 in non-conference.
The Valley Action:
In The Valley, you play three games per team, so the Braves started off against Illinois State at home and lost two of three. Late March and early April would bring SEVEN canceled games to the Braves with a mixture of wins and losses, never really going in one direction or another. April 11th, however, saw the start of a tough time for the Braves, as they would drop 10 of 11 games before turning it around to win the last five to close out the regular season. They entered The Valley tournament as the 6th seed and survived extra innings against #7 SMS before upsetting #3 Northern Iowa and #1 Creighton to gain the automatic berth.
The Braves had only one hitter on the season hitting over .300, which was LF Janay Mitchell (junior), who bats 2nd and hit .307 over 51 games. She also led the squad in hits, runs and stolen bases with 12. For the big offense, Bradley relied on 1B Alycia Bachkora (senior) for 10 HR's and 34 RBI's with a .562 slugging. (but only .248 on the season). On the whole, Bradley hit .222 (.225 opposition) with 21 HR's (28 opposition), slugging of .314 (.328 opposition) and OBP of .307 (.288 opposition). They stole 39 bases (53 opposition)
Illinois was OK in the field, committing 57 errors on the season for a percentage of .961 (opposition at .965). SS Miriam Wegmann was the weak link, accounting for 12 errors.
If hitting was a weakness for Bradley, then pitching was a strength. They were anchored by Ashley Birdsong (senior), who started 27 games for Bradley and completed 26 of them. She went 19-10 on the season with an impressive 1.73 ERA in 211 innings. She gave up 169 hits and 35 BB's while striking out 212. She was masterful in The Valley Tournament Championship game, spinning a two-hitter with one walk leading Bradley to a 2-0 win over #1 seed Creighton. Katie Dennis (soph) and Amanda Clack (junior) were the other two pitchers, combining to go 6-16 with an ERA around 3.45 over 134 innings. As a team, Bradley's ERA was 2.40 (2.37 opposition)
Bradley played a ton of games at the awesomely named Dragon's Dome in Pekin, IL, a place close to The Boy's heart.
Let's be honest...if we are looking at or thinking about Bradley, it is because an upset or two has happened. The Braves are not likely to do much against the solid pitching Mizzou has to offer, but they did enough and threw quite well against a Creighton team which was thought to maybe have been squeezed out of the NCAA tourney. Like Illinois, this is a team which is more than capable of stealing a game in a format like this based on their strengths. Scoring a few runs should be all the Tigers (or anyone) will need against the Braves, but the longer a scoreless game goes, the better shot Bradley has to scratch out just enough to win.