PEORIA, Ill. -- The Bradley softball team travels to Wichita, Kan., for the final Missouri Valley Conference road series of the 2012 season, looking to lock up one of the final four spots in the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. The Braves and Shockers open the three-game set Saturday with a noon doubleheader before closing out the series Sunday at noon.
Bradley (17-26 overall, 7-13 MVC) enters the final week and a half of the regular season seventh in the league standings and is one game behind Missouri State for sixth place. Wichita State (13-34 overall, 6-15 MVC) is a game-and-a-half back of the Braves in eighth after topping Missouri State Wednesday night at home.
The six teams battling for the final four spots in the eight-team MVC Tournament field all play series against each other this weekend, with fifth-place Drake (11-10 MVC) visiting 10th-place Evansville (5-16 MVC) and sixth-place Missouri State (8-12 MVC) hosting ninth-place Indiana State (5-15 MVC) in Terre Haute, Ind.
Drake can lock up one of the spots in the tournament field with a victory and Missouri State can guarantee its spot with any combination of three victories and Evansville losses in the final two weekends of league play. With six conference games remaining, the Braves need a combination of four wins or Evansville losses down the stretch along with a total of five BU wins or Indiana State losses to lock up a spot in the field.
As a team, Bradley has drawn 112 walks this spring which is the highest season total since collecting a school-record 144 base on balls in 2009. The 112 walks this season is the fifth best season total in school history and the 2.60 walks per game average is the squad's second highest average since drawing a school-record 3.37 walks per contest in 1981.
Sophomore Madeline Lynch-Crumrine (Sedro-Woolley, Wash./Sedro-Woolley) collected both of Bradley's hits in Wednesday's setback at league-leading Northern Iowa and has hit safely in six of the last seven games. She is hitting .391 over the last seven games to raise her season batting average of .306.
Last year against Wichita State, Lynch-Crumrine was 5-for-9 (.556) with a double and two runs scored in the series in addition to boasting a 2.19 ERA over 16 innings of work in three appearances against the Shockers.
Senior Jackie Roth (Hickory Hills, Ill./Stagg) recorded her 100th assist of the year Wednesday at Northern Iowa to give Bradley two players with 100 or more assists in the field in the same season for the first time since 2005. Last week, Roth moved into a tie with Tyann Copeland (1997-2000) for second in school history with her 32nd career sacrifice hit. Roth and Copeland are six sacrifice bunts behind Sue Gasper's (1987-90) school record of 38.
The Braves close out a five-game road swing Tuesday with a game at Wisconsin (6 p.m.) before finishing the regular season with a three-game home series against Southern Illinois (May 5 & 6) at Laura Bradley Park.