PEORIA, Ill. -- After two series of Missouri Valley Conference play, the Bradley softball team steps out of league action Wednesday to play a 3:30 p.m. doubleheader at Western Illinois. Following Wednesday's doubleheader in Macomb, Ill., the Braves return home to host Evansville Saturday and Sunday at Laura Bradley Park.
Bradley (11-17 overall, 1-5 MVC) wrapped up a three-game series at Drake last weekend with a pair of one-run losses and four of BU's last six losses have come by one run. The Braves are 5-7 in one-run games, however, marking the most wins in one-run games since finishing the 2009 season with a 7-8 record in those contests.
Wednesday's doubleheader at Western Illinois (16-14 overall) wraps up a five-game road swing for the Braves, who are in the middle of a stretch in which 11 of 14 games will be played away from home. Bradley will play 10 of 16 games in the month of April on the road and have eight home games remaining on the schedule following the weekend series with the Purple Aces.
Western Illinois won last year's meeting with Bradley at the EastSide Centre in East Peoria, but BU has won nine of the last 11 overall in the series with the Leathernecks. The two in-state foes have met every year since 1999 and the team will play a doubleheader for the first time since 2006.
Wednesday's doubleheader at Western Illinois is one of two non-conference home dates remaining on the schedule. BU will conclude the non-conference portion of the schedule with a single game at Wisconsin on May 1.
Following the mid-week games at Western Illinois, Bradley will return to Laura Bradley Park for a three-game series against Valley foe Evansville (8-18 overall, 1-5 MVC). The series is slated to begin with a noon doubleheader and will conclude Sunday with a single game at noon.
A free shuttle for Bradley students for Saturday's noon doubleheader will leave the Michel Student Center at 11:30 a.m. The first 100 Bradley students in attendance will receive free pizza and a t-shirt.
BradleyBraves.com will have links to live stats for all five games on the slate this week in addition to links for free audio and video streams of the weekend series against Evansville.
Senior Julie Sherman (Hickory Hills, Ill./Stagg) enters the week 14th in the MVC with a .347 batting average and is second in the league with 34 hits. Sherman is hitting .350 in MVC play with five runs scored and four stolen bases in six Valley games. Her 14 stolen bases on the year are tied for the 10th best season total in program history and she needs one more steal for the most stolen bases by a Brave since Laura Harms swiped 18 bases in 2004.
Sophomore Bailiegh Basham (Mattoon, Ill./Mattoon/Lake Land C.C.) missed two games in the Drake series due to illness, but returned to the lineup for the final game against the Bulldogs and enters the week fourth in the nation in walks per game (0.96 per game). Basham also ranks among the national leaders in on base percentage (14th - .556) through games of March 25 and needs three base on balls to break the Bradley season record for walks.
Freshman Alyson Clemente (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) is also hitting .350 in MVC action and boasts a .327 batting average with eight RBI and five runs scored over her last 17 games.