Bison Travel to Kansas City for Four-Game Summit League Series

THIS WEEK: North Dakota State (7-17, 2-2 Summit) is on the road for the second week of Summit League softball play to face Kansas City (15-11, 0-4 Summit) in a pair of doubleheaders this Friday, April 2, and Saturday, April 3. Game time is noon Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday at the Urban Youth Academy in Kansas City, Mo. Live stats and live video of all four games will be available on KCRoos.com.
 
THE SERIES: North Dakota State has a 21-6 lead in the series with Kansas City dating back to 2005. The teams have not played since the 2014 season when the Roos won 4-3 at the University of Missouri Tournament. The Bison are 8-3 in road games at Kansas City and also won the 2012 Summit League championship hosted by Kansas City. NDSU and KC have met in one Summit League championship game with the Bison winning 5-0 at Western Illinois for the 2010 league title.
 
ABOUT KANSAS CITY: The Roos won 8-3 at Missouri State on Tuesday to improve to 15-11 overall, but Kansas City is 0-4 in The Summit League after dropping four home games to South Dakota State last weekend. KC is second in the league with a .279 batting average and 20 home runs and third in the league with a 3.91 team ERA. Senior 1B Lia Lombardini is second in the league in hitting (.400), on-base percentage (.505), hits (30) and walks (14) while ranking first in doubles (9) and runs batted in (28). Junior RHP Mia Hoveland leads the league with 93.2 innings pitched and 111 strikeouts. Head coach Kerry Shaw (Missouri Western State, 1993) is in his second year at Kansas City and has a 76-111 career record including three seasons at the University of Mary in Bismarck.
 
ABOUT THE BISON: North Dakota State is 7-17 overall and 2-2 in The Summit League after splitting a pair of doubleheaders at Western Illinois on the opening weekend of league play. NDSU ranks sixth in the league in hitting (.236) and pitching (5.27) through 24 games. NDSU pounded out a season-high 14 hits in the 16-0 victory at Western Illinois, which was the most runs scored by the Bison since 2016. The Bison followed that with 15 runs on 13 hits in Game 3 of the series.
 
SORIANO HEATING UP: OF Stephanie Soriano hit safely in all four games at Western Illinois and ranks fifth in the league with a .348 batting average, 40 points higher than her previous career-best .308 as a junior in 2019. Soriano has reached base in nine straight contests and has 15 hits over that span to raise her batting average to .348 from .216 entering the Jayhawk Invitational on March 19. She has five multi-hit games over the past two weekends and had a career-high four RBIs twice against Kansas and Western Illinois.
 
STATISTICAL LEADERS: OF Stephanie Soriano leads the Bison with a .348 batting average, five doubles and 17 RBIs through 24 games. OF Madyson Camacho is hitting .324 with a team-high 24 hits and six stolen bases. INF Skylar Padgett (.294) and DP/2B Ciara Jensen each have two home runs and are tied with Padgett for the team lead with 12 runs scored. C Avery Wysong (.260) has a team-best .520 slugging percentage and is tied for the team lead in doubles (5) and home runs (2). Jensen leads the Bison with 11 walks and a .391 on-base percentage. RHP Paige Vargas leads the Bison pitching staff with four wins, seven complete games, 53.2 innings and 39 strikeouts.
 
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: North Dakota State continues to play the The Summit League’s toughest non-conference schedule in preparation for league play. NDSU’s non-conference strength of schedule ranks 53rd and is the only Top 100 schedule in The Summit League. Eight of NDSU’s 12 non-conference opponents are in the Top 100 of the first NCAA RPI rankings.
 
FOUR-GAME SERIES: With reductions and cancellations in non-conference play this year, The Summit League has expanded its league schedule to four-game series with opponents playing two doubleheaders each weekend. The previous league format was a three-game series with one doubleheader and one single game. Since beginning Summit League play in 2008, NDSU has swept 39 three-game series including 26 away from Fargo. The Bison have been swept only twice in league play with both coming on the road against Purdue Fort Wayne (2010) and Kansas City (2011).
 
BISON PICKED TO WIN SUMMIT: North Dakota State was picked to win The Summit League in a preseason poll of the league’s seven head coaches. The Bison have won the last two regular season crowns and six straight league tournament titles. NDSU had six first-place votes followed by South Dakota State, South Dakota, Omaha, Kansas City, North Dakota and Western Illinois.
 
PLAYERS TO WATCH: North Dakota State junior right-handed pitcher Paige Vargas and senior infielder Montana DeCamp were among the Summit League preseason players to watch. Vargas, the league’s 2019 Freshman of the Year, made 17 appearances last season with a 3.94 ERA was second in the league with 74.2 innings. DeCamp, a two-time All-Summit League first team pick, started all 23 games last year hitting .286 with one home run, five RBIs and a team-high 14 runs scored.
 
WHO’S BACK: North Dakota State returns 17 of 18 players from last year’s COVID-19 shortened season. The Bison lost their last five games of the season to finish 7-16 overall. The Bison had the top fielding team in The Summit League last year with a .965 fielding percentage, a league-low 23 errors and league-high 12 double plays. NDSU hit .257 as a team and had a 4.12 team ERA through 23 games. Designated player Cara Beatty was second in the league with a .393 batting average.
 
FIELD OF THE YEAR: Tharaldson Park, the on-campus home softball stadium for North Dakota State, was named the NCAA Division I winner of the 2020 Netting Professionals NFCA Field of the Year award, which recognizes the top fields/stadiums in the nation for their flawless grounds maintenance and exceptional playing surfaces. Tharaldson Park was dedicated in 2018 after a $2 million renovation including installation of a FieldTurf playing surface and seating for 735 spectators.
 
SUMMIT TOURNEY RETURNS TO FARGO: The Summit League Softball Championship presented by U.S. Air Force Special Warfare is slated to return to Fargo for the ninth time in program history. NDSU will host the league championship May 12-15 at Tharaldson Park. The winner of the six-team tournament will earn the league’s automatic qualifier for an NCAA Division I regional.
 
NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY: North Dakota State has advanced to NCAA regional play 10 of the past 11 seasons as the Summit League tournament champion. NDSU qualified for its first NCAA Division I tournament in 2009, the school’s first year of Division I postseason eligibility, and the Bison swept through the Norman Regional that year to advance to Super Regional play at Arizona State. NDSU made seven NCAA Division II postseason appearances from 1998-2004 including a national championship in 2000.
 
NATIONALLY RANKED OPPONENTS: North Dakota State beat at least one nationally ranked opponent in seven straight seasons from 2012 to 2018 with the most recent Top 25 victory coming in 2018 over 10th-ranked LSU by a 1-0 score in nine innings. That is one of five Bison wins over Top 10 opponents including a 2-1 victory at No. 2 Alabama in 2016, the highest-ranked opponent NDSU has beaten. NDSU’s first win over a nationally ranked Division I program came in 2009 with an 11-inning 1-0 victory at No. 9/10 Oklahoma en route to the NCAA regional championship.
 
EXTRA INNINGS: North Dakota State has played four extra-inning games this season with a 3-1 record in those contests. NDSU is 12-3 in extra innings since 2017 and the Bison have a 40-29 record since beginning Division I play in 2005 including three 12-inning games against Colorado State in 2006 (W, 3-2); Kansas City in 2012 (L, 4-6) and Georgia Tech in 2017 (W, 8-6).
 
NO-HITTERS: North Dakota State pitchers have thrown 30 no-hitters including 13 against Division I opponents with the last coming in 2019 when KK Leddy blanked South Dakota State 5-0. There have been eight perfect games by NDSU pitchers with the last one in 2015 by Krista Menke at Purdue Fort Wayne. There have been six no-hitters pitched against NDSU in Division I play since 2005. Illinois State’s Morgan Day struck out 16 and walked one in the last no-hitter against North Dakota State in the championship game of the Middle Tennessee State University Invitational on March 14.
 

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