PEORIA, Ill. -- The Bradley softball team opens the final road swing of the 2012 season Wednesday (6 p.m.) with a single game at league-leading Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The Braves will also play a three-game weekend series at Wichita State and single game at Wisconsin (May 1) before finishing out the regular season at home with a three-game series against Southern Illinois.
Bradley (17-25 overall, 7-12 MVC) and Northern Iowa (34-11 overall, 17-2 MVC) split a doubleheader last week at Laura Bradley Park, with the Braves handing the Panthers their first conference loss of the year and snapping UNI's 18-game regular-season Missouri Valley Conference win streak.
BU enters Wednesday's game seventh in the Valley standings with a 7-12 league record and owns a two-game lead on eighth-place Indiana State. The Braves are one game behind sixth-place Missouri State in the standings with half of the eight spots in next month's State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament locked up as the teams enter the final two weeks of the regular season.
Northern Iowa has a three-game lead on second-place Southern Illinois in the league race and is four games up on third-place Creighton with seven Valley games remaining. The Panthers and Salukis play this weekend in Carbondale, Ill., in one of the biggest three-game series of the year in the MVC.
BradleyBraves.com will provide a link to live stats for Wednesday's game at UNI.
Senior Julie Sherman (Hickory Hills, Ill./Stagg) enters the week riding a team season-best six-game hit streak. Sherman was 5-for-12 (.417) in the weekend series against Illinois State and is hitting .391 with five runs scored and three RBI during her six-game hit streak.
The Braves boast a .956 fielding percentage this season, marking the team's best fielding percentage since finishing the 2009 campaign with a .961 mark. BU's 17 double plays are tied for the most in the conference this spring with Wichita State, after Bradley led the Valley with 18 double plays in 2011.
In addition to making a bid to become the first freshman to lead the team in home runs since 2005, freshman Alyson Clemente (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) has made a team-best 319 putouts at first base this year. Her 319 putouts is the eighth best season total in school history.
Sophomore Alex Chandler (Needles, Calif./Needles) has notched 116 assists at shortstop, which is tied for the 10th best season total at Bradley and senior Jackie Roth (Hickory Hills, Ill./Stagg) needs one more assist to reach the century mark. Roth's next assist would give Bradley two individuals with 100 assists in the same season for the first time since 2005.
Sophomore Bailiegh Basham (Mattoon, Ill./Mattoon/Lake Land C.C.) was hit by a pitch for the eighth time over the weekend, moving into a tie with Christine Cooney for the school season record. Basham has been plunked eight times this spring, matching the school record previously set by Cooney in 2007.