The Pittsburg State softball team hosts Northwest Missouri State today (first pitch at 3 p.m.) and Truman on Sunday — its opening four conference games of the season after 27 nonconference games.

The Pittsburg State softball team hosts Northwest Missouri State today (first pitch at 3 p.m.) and Truman on Sunday — its opening four conference games of the season after 27 nonconference games.

Pitt State enters conference play on a four-game winning streak — sweeps of Arkansas Tech (6-0, 7-0) and Wisconsin-Parkside (14-3, 3-2) — and has won five of the last six contests to boost its overall record to 11-16.

Senior shortstop Amanda DeCastro missed 12 games due to injury and returned to action the second game against Arkansas Tech in Russellville, Ark. She celebrated her return with a 4-for-4 and five RBI performance in a 14-3 rout of the Rangers of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Her season numbers include a team-high .426 batting average, 23 hits, five doubles, one triple, four home runs, 15 RBI (one RBI per game), a team-high .778 slugging percentage and a team-high .466 on-base percentage.

Sophomore pitcher and designated hitter Tiffany Brown has emerged as a legitimate offensive threat. Her stats include a .390 batting average, 30 hits, seven doubles, seven homers, 23 RBI, 58 total bases, .753 slugging percentage and .413 on-base percentage.

Brown ranks eighth in the MIAA in batting average, third in slugging percentage, ninth in runs scored (18), sixth in hits, third in RBI, fifth in doubles, second in home runs and second in total bases (58).

Nationally, Brown is tied for 40th in homers with 22 players but her and Jenelle Trautmann of Augustana (S.D.) are the only two listed as starting pitchers. Brown averages one homer per every 11 at-bats.

As a pitcher, Brown has a 2-5 record with six games started.

Sophomore speedster Brenna George — table setter for the big bats in the Pitt State lineup — has played in all 27 games for the Gorillas and she ranks first in the MIAA in runs scored (26), second in hits (36), first in triples (4), 10th in total bases (45), first in stolen bases (15), first in total plate appearances (109), first in at-bats (101), first in steal attempts (18) and second in caught stealing (3).

Nationally, George ranks tied for fifth in the nation in triples and Kara Anderson of Palm Beach Atlantic and Cori Reinhardt of California State Monterey Bay are tied for first with six triples. Her 15 stolen bases place her 41st in the nation.

Freshman outfielder and pitcher Cheslyn Mitchell hits .345 with 20 hits, 17 runs scored, eight doubles, three homer runs, 18 RBI, 37 total bases, a .638 slugging percentage, nine walks, four HBP and a .465 on-base percentage. She’s fourth in on-base percentage, tied for seventh in the MIAA in RBI, tied for third in doubles and tied for sixth in times hit-by pitch.

Junior catcher and first baseman Kreslee Ketcham bats .311 with 23 hits, seven doubles, one triple, three home runs, 18 RBI, 41 total bases, a .554 slugging percentage and a .435 on-base percentage highlighted by a team-high 15 walks. She’s the only Pitt State batter with more walks than strikeouts (15 walks—13 strikeouts).

On the pitching rubber, sophomore Jessica Barnes ranks third in the MIAA in ERA (1.57), 14th in opposing batting average (.272), 15th in innings pitched (49.0) and 14th in strikeouts (26). One inning short of qualifying for the national leaders, Barnes would rank in the top 50 in ERA.

The Bearcats of Northwest Missouri are 11-13 overall this season but 0-7 in away games. With 92 runs scored on the season, Northwest Missouri will have to keep up with a Pitt State team leading the MIAA with 130 RBI.
Junior first baseman and catcher Kayli Schurman (Milo, Iowa) and junior third baseman Kristen Uthe (Santa Clarita, Calif.) have been leading run producers for the Bearcats.

Uthe leads with a .360 batting average and 20 RBI, along with her second-best four home runs. Schurman leads all the MIAA with eight home runs (one more than Brown of Pitt State) and ranks second behind Uthe with 19 RBI.
Jenna Creger and Morgan Brunmeier, pitchers, have identical 4-5 records but Creger leads Northwest with a 3.82 ERA while Brunmeier has a 6.45 ERA.

The Bulldogs of Truman (12-15) have been road warriors even more than Pitt State, 6-7 in away games and 5-7 in neutral-site games.
Senior outfielder Bridget Schade (Herculaneum, Mo., pop. 3,582) ranks as one of the conference’s top players — second in batting average (.447), second in slugging percentage (.789), first in on-base percentage (.533), tied for third in runs scored (20), third in hits (34), tied for fourth in RBI (20), tied for second in homers (7), first in total bases (60) and tied for first in walks (15).

Pitt State and Missouri Southern are the last MIAA teams to start conference play. Missouri Western and Emporia State are 8-0 at the head of the pack and the Griffons have a 25-4 overall record in a conference with only three teams above .500.