Bradley Hopes To Continue Hot-Hitting


Published on February 21 2019 11:42 am
Last Updated on February 21 2019 11:42 am
Written by Millie Lange

PEORIA, Ill. -- Leading the nation in home runs per game, Bradley Softball looks to continue its hot hitting when the Braves head to Knoxville, Tenn., for the Tennessee Invitational, which will now be played Saturday, Sunday and Monday after forecasted inclement weather forced adjustments in the weekend schedule.

Bradley (5-5 overall) won four of five games at the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces, N.M., this past weekend, hitting 22 home runs in the five games and the Braves are slugging 2.20 homers per game to lead the nation.  The 5-5 mark is the team’s best start through 10 games since opening the 2010 season with a 6-4 record.

The weekend trip to Knoxville, Tenn., is the first of two scheduled trips to the state of Tennessee in 2019 for Bradley.  The Braves had not played in the Volunteer State prior to the 2001 season, but this year will mark the 12th time in the last 19 seasons Bradley will play in the state of Tennessee.  Overall, the Braves are 22-29 all-time in the state of Tennessee, including a 10-12 mark under head coach Amy Hayes.  Bradley last traveled to Knoxville, Tenn., during the 2017 campaign.

Bradley starts the weekend Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. (CST) game against Louisville (4-5 overall) in the first of two contests against the Cardinals.  The Braves also face Kansas (2-8 overall) Saturday at 4 p.m. (CST).  The second game of the year against a nationally ranked opponent kicks off Sunday’s action with Bradley taking on tournament-host and 7th-ranked Tennessee (8-2 overall) at 11 a.m. (CST).  The rematch with Louisville follows at 4 p.m. (CST) Sunday and the Braves wrap up the tournament Monday morning with an 8 a.m. (CST) outing against Virginia (4-5 overall).

Sunday’s game against Tennessee will be streamed on SEC Network+ and will provide links to live stats for all five games.

After hitting a school record 46 home runs last year, Bradley currently leads the nation in homers per game (2.20) through the first two weekends of the 2019 season.  The Braves did not hit a home run during the opening weekend at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., but traveled to Las Cruces, N.M., for the Troy Cox Classic Feb. 15-17, where Bradley hit 22 home runs in the five games.  Through games of Feb. 17, the Braves were 22nd in the nation in slugging percentage (.574).

Junior Kealia Wysocki, who was named MVC Player of the Week Monday, has belted six home runs on the young season to rank second in the nation (through Feb. 17) behind only Alyssa DiCarlo of Georgia, who has eight homers.  Bradley tied the NCAA record for home runs in an inning, hitting five during the sixth inning of the win against San Jose State as the Braves smashed the school single-game record with eight dingers vs. the Spartans.

Wysocki leapfrogged fellow junior Allison Apke for second in career home runs at Bradley with her six home runs last week pushing her career total to 19 and needs just two dingers to tie Alyson Clemente’s school record of 21 homers.  Wysocki is the only player in program history to have three seasons with six or more homers.

Five of Bradley’s first 10 contests have been one-run contests with the Braves owning a 3-2 record in those outings.  Last year, Bradley played 16 one-run games, but won just five of those tilts.  The Braves have scored at least five runs in six of 10 games and are averaging 6.0 runs per game.   The 2018 season saw Bradley average 4.76 per game for the team’s highest scoring average since the 2015 season when the Braves scored 4.78 runs per outing.

Freshman Lucy Mead has gotten her Bradley career off to a strong start with the middle infielder collecting hits in nine of her first 10 games as a Brave.  In fact, she enters the weekend with a team-best eight-game hit streak and is one of four Bradley players currently owning a hit streak of five games or longer.  During her eight-game streak, Mead owns a .379 average (11-for-29) with six runs, two homers and five RBI while hitting leadoff in seven of the eight contests.  On the season, Mead has reached base safely in all 10 games and owns a .361 average.

Bradley Softball head coach Amy Hayes is now the all-time wins leader in program history, topping the previous mark of 207 victories set by Clint Wilson (1983-92) with the Feb. 15 victory over Montana.  The 10th coach in MVC history with 100 career league wins, Hayes has led Bradley to its only NCAA Tournament appearances (2014 & 2009) in program history and she is currently 14th in Missouri Valley Conference history with 211 wins.  Now in her 18th year as a collegiate head coach, Hayes owns 424 career coaching victories.  She has the fourth most games coached in Bradley history (all sports) with 534 games in the Bradley dugout.  Hayes is four contests from passing Leo Schrall (537 games - baseball) for third most games coached in school history.

The Braves follow up the weekend trip to Knoxville, Tenn., with a trip to Orlando, Fla., for the Citrus Classic March 1-3, where Bradley will play two games against both Purdue and South Alabama in addition to a single game against Savannah State.