PEORIA, Ill. -- For the second consecutive year and third time in the last four seasons, Bradley will open play in the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament against Missouri State, when the Braves and Lady Bears meet Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in the opening round of the 2012 event in Carbondale, Ill.
Bradley (21-29 overall, 11-15 MVC) finished seventh in the regular-season Valley standings, one game behind Missouri State (24-25 overall, 12-14 MVC) after taking two of three games from Southern Illinois over the weekend in the final home series of the year.
The Braves have played more Valley tournament games against the Bears (12) than any other team and own a 3-1 record in post-season play against Missouri State since MSU eliminated BU from the 1999 tournament.
After eliminating Missouri State from the 2000 event in East Peoria, Bradley edged Missouri State 2-1 in the opening round of the 2007 tournament in Normal, Ill., and started its run to the 2009 State Farm MVC Tournament title and first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history with a 3-2, eight-inning win at the EastSide Centre in East Peoria. Last year, Missouri State defeated the Braves 3-0 in Springfield, Mo., en route to the 2011 Tournament title.
Bradley's first series victory against Southern Illinois since 2000, helped the Braves finish the regular season with the most wins since 2009 and BU's 11 conference wins tied for the second most league wins in school history. The Braves took two of three games at Missouri State in early April in Springfield, outscoring the Bears 13-5 in the three-game set.
The Missouri Valley Conference will provide links to live stats for all tournament games along with a free video stream of all games leading up to Saturday's championship which will be televised on Fox Sports Midwest.
The winner of Thursday's opening round game will play #3 seed Drake Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for a spot in Friday's 2:30 p.m. semifinal against #2 seed Illinois State.
Bradley is 5-2 in Valley Tournament play since the league adopted the single elimination format and is advancing to the MVC Tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1999 & 2000.
Senior Jackie Roth (Hickory Hills, Ill./Stagg) has had success against Missouri State, boasting a career .400 batting average in 14 games against the Lady Bears. Over the last three seasons, Roth is 13-for-28 (.464) with two doubles, a home run, six RBI and three runs scored against Missouri State. The fifth player in program history to play in 200 career games, Roth became the first player in program history with 50 career runs, 50 RBI, 50 walks and 30 stolen bases.
Sophomore Madeline Lynch-Crumrine (Sedro-Woolley, Wash./Sedro-Woolley) drove in four runs in the weekend series with SIU to conclude the regular season to push her season RBI total to 20. She is third on the team in RBI behind Roth and sophomore Bailiegh Basham (Mattoon, Ill./Mattoon/Lake Land C.C.), who have 24 driven in this spring and Bradley has three players with 20 or more RBI for the first time since 2005. Lynch-Crumrine is hitting .327 with seven runs and nine RBI over the last 14 games.
Senior Julie Sherman (Hickory Hills, Ill./Stagg) scored her team-best 31st run of the year Sunday and has the most runs scored by a BU individual since 2004. Her 57 runs over the last two years are the most by a Brave in a two-year span since Laura Harms scored 70 runs in 2003 and 2004.
The State Farm MVC Tournament begins Thursday, with #5 Creighton playing #8 Evansville at 11 a.m. followed by Bradley and Missouri State.