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  • Pittsburg State begins postseason play Thursday

  • Three out of four or 75 percent or better than a Meat Loaf hit. The Pittsburg State Gorillas dominated the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association weekly awards for baseball and softball on Tuesday. Senior first baseman Kreslee Ketcham won Hitter of the Week and freshman ...
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  • Three out of four or 75 percent or better than a Meat Loaf hit.
    The Pittsburg State Gorillas dominated the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association weekly awards for baseball and softball on Tuesday.
    Senior first baseman Kreslee Ketcham won Hitter of the Week and freshman Kyndel Shelburn won Pitcher of the Week. George Brandecker, a sophomore, won Pitcher of the Week.
    The fourth selection, Northwest Missouri center fielder Ryan Abernathy, did his damage over a weekend series against Pitt State.
    The Gorilla baseball team qualified for the MIAA Tournament for the first time since 2004, in Matt Murray’s first season as head coach.
    Pitt State, once in a position to host a first-round series, will now play No. 2 seed Central Missouri in Warrensburg. The Gorillas actually finished eighth in the conference but No. 7 Lindenwood does not qualify for the postseason.
    The Gorillas and the Mules had their regular season three-game series canceled during the midst of winter storms and now the 34-9 overall, 28-8 MIAA Mules will host the 26-21, 22-19 Gorillas for a best two-out-of-three.
    Pitt State and Central Missouri open their three-game series Thursday at 6 p.m. The winner of the series will advance to the MIAA Final Four May 9-11 at Community America Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan.
    Murray returns to Crane Stadium/Tompkins Field for the first time as Pitt State head coach. He spent five seasons as an assistant in Warrensburg.
    Central Missouri head coach Tom Myers played baseball at Pitt State (earning All-MIAA honors two seasons and All-Region honors his senior year) and spent the 2002 season as the hitting and outfielders coach, both for former Pitt State head man Steve Bever.
    The Mules own a 61-10 series edge against Pitt State, with 12 straight wins by Central Missouri overall, and the Gorillas have only won three games in 42 played in Warrensburg.
    Team leaders offensively for the Gorillas are Brad Foss with a .376 batting average, Ryan Ventura 49 runs scored, Foss 64 hits, Tory Stoffregen 17 doubles, Stoffregen and Ventura four triples, Ryan Bilovesky 10 home runs, Stoffregen 44 RBI, Stoffregen .577 slugging percentage, Jacoby Martin .442 on-base percentage and Ventura 18 stolen bases.
    The three best pitchers for the Gorillas have been Brandecker, Matt Stalcup and Cody Wren.
    Brandecker (5-3, 2.52 ERA) extended his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 14 2/3 with a one-hit shutout of Missouri Southern last Wednesday at Al Ortolani Field.
    Brandecker allowed one baserunner, no extra-base hits, on a Shaun Hoover single in the third. No. 26 generated five strikeouts and the defense played spotless behind him for eight flyouts and eight groundouts.
    This one-hit shutout was the fifth in school history: Denny Ferraro (Missouri S&T, 1994, 9 IP, 11-0), Josh Weems and Levi Shaffer (Bemidji State, 1999, Weems 6 IP, Shaffer 1 IP, 10-0), Chris Shorter (Minnesota-Morris, 1999, 7 IP, 8-0) and Chris Klick (Missouri S&T, 2004, 7 IP, 1-0).
    Page 2 of 3 - Stalcup (6-3, 3.41 ERA) struck out 86 in 58.0 innings this season, highlighted by a school record 15 Ks against Central Oklahoma down in Edmond.
    No. 9 led Division II in strikeouts per nine innings for most of the season and his 13.34 currently ranks second in the nation behind the 14.03 of David Ledbetter of Cedarville (Ohio).
    Wren (4-5, 5.13 ERA), a Baxter Springs native, can eat up the innings and he owns one of three shutouts thrown by a Pitt State pitcher this season. Brandecker owns the other two.
    Meanwhile, the baseball powerhouse known as Central Missouri features an offensive attack outscoring its opponents 372-178.
    Kyle Grieshaber and Brad Wilson lead with 51 RBI, John Oropeza has 48 and Kevin Gratza’s 41 provides the Mules with four players above 40 RBI. Grieshaber leads the club with nine homers and the Mules have outdoubled their opponents 98-49 with Oropeza (18), Grieshaber (15), Gratza (11) and Wilson (11) all in double figures.
    Pitching wise, the Mules own a team ERA of 3.78 while opponents are 7.65. Travis Higgs (5-1, 3.25 ERA), Kurtis Schuyler (4-3, 4.89) and Chris Fitzpatrick (3-0, 5.19) have each made 10 starts. The Mules have several capable relievers: Devon Brogan (5-1, 2.35), Andrew Urban (4-2, 2.53, 5 saves), Jake Heissler (5-0, 2.57, 3 saves), Blake Kolons (1-1, 2.63, 3 saves), Zach Davis (1-1, 2.82, 6 saves) and Dany Coulombe (4-0, 3.41, 1 save).
    The Gorillas are playing their best softball at the right time: a six-game winning streak moved Pitt State from the outside looking in to a No. 7 seed and MIAA Tournament first round meeting against Fort Hays State. First pitch is at 6 p.m. Thursday in Overland Park. The softball tournament uses the double-elimination format.
    Pitt State (28-20, 16-12 MIAA) and Fort Hays split their regular season doubleheader in Hays.
    Senior first baseman Kreslee Ketcham took over the team lead in batting average at .373 after her weekend against Southwest Baptist and Central Missouri. No. 16 leads the Gorillas with 12 home runs and ranks highly in runs scored (33, fourth), hits (56, tied for first), RBI (38, third), slugging percentage (.660, second), on-base percentage (.451, second) and sacrifice hits (5, first).
    Tiffany Brown and Katelyn Birchfield combine with Ketcham to form one of the most formidable 1-2-3 punches anywhere, all three players hitting above .300 with 10 or more home runs and above 35 RBI.
    Brown owns a .371 batting average with 35 runs scored, 56 hits, 11 doubles, 11 home runs, 39 RBI, .662 slugging percentage, .453 on-base percentage and seven stolen bases in nine attempts.
    Birchfield leads with 43 RBI and her stats include .309 average, 47 hits, eight doubles and 10 homers.
    Kayla Sears (.310 average, 4 homers, 25 RBI) and Jordan Bradshaw (.257, 7, 24) have been key contributors, while Catie Cummins (.286, 2, 9) and Riley Campbell (.236, 2, 9) came on strong near the end of the season.
    With her speed, Brenna George applies pressure on the defense and she leads the Gorillas with 46 runs scored and 24 stolen bases.
    Kyndel Shelburn leads the Gorillas in the circle with a 12-8 record and 2.31 ERA, as well as 179 strikeouts in 145.1 innings, 15 complete games, four shutouts and two saves. She leads the Gorillas in all those pitching categories.
    Page 3 of 3 - Fort Hays (41-9 overall, 21-5 MIAA) features one of the premier NCAA-II softball players in senior Maddie Holub.
    Offensively, Holub leads Fort Hays with a .451 batting average, 18 home runs and 50 RBI and in the circle, she leads with a 24-1 record, 0.77 ERA and 298 strikeouts in 181.0 innings. Opponents hit .120 against her this season.
    Holub and Shelburn may offer spectators at the Blue Valley Sports Complex a game they’ll never forget.
    Holub ranks second in NCAA-II in ERA (0.77), tied for fifth in victories (24), third in strikeouts (298) and third in strikeouts per seven (11.5). Shelburn ranks in the top 40 in strikeouts and strikeouts per seven.
    During the first game of the doubleheader, Holub and Shelburn battled to 1-0 in 10 innings with Shelburn allowing only one hit in the loss. Pitt State reached on five hits but could not make a dent on the scoreboard. Shelburn pitched the first extra-inning one-hitter in school history. Holub pitched back-to-back perfect games this season and Pitt State broke her scoreless innings streak.
    School MIAA Overall
    Missouri Western 28-5 35-8
    Central Missouri 28-8 34-9
    Missouri Southern 23-16 29-18
    Central Oklahoma 23-16 27-17
    Emporia State 24-17 27-20
    Northeastern St. 25-20 27-21
    Lindenwood 21-17 23-23
    Pittsburg State 22-19 26-21
    Fort Hays State 19-19 23-20
    Nebraska-Kearney 19-20 22-23
    Southwest Baptist 18-21 20-27
    Northwest Mo. 19-24 22-27
    Truman State 11-32 12-34
    Washburn 9-32 10-33
    Lincoln 6-29 7-33
    School MIAA Overall
    Central Oklahoma 23-3 39-9
    Fort Hays State 21-5 41-9
    Missouri Western 20-8 36-14
    Emporia State 18-10 33-16
    Northeastern St. 16-10 26-22
    Truman State 16-12 28-16
    Pittsburg State 16-12 28-20
    Northwest Missouri 15-13 27-17
    Central Missouri 14-14 24-22
    Missouri Southern 13-15 26-24
    Lindenwood 11-17 20-30
    Washburn 9-19 13-33
    Nebraska-Kearney 8-18 13-29
    Lincoln 6-22 14-27-1
    Southwest Baptist 0-28 4-48

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