EVANSVILLE, Ind. –  Second place in the Missouri Valley Conference will be up for grabs this weekend, with one of the main deciding series for seeding taking place at the University of Evansville’s German American Bank Field at Charles H. Braun Stadium, as Evansville and UIC will square off in a key three-game series.  The series will begin on Thursday night at 6 p.m. with all three games of the series being available in the Tri-State area on 107.1 FM-WJPS and on-line on ESPN+.
Evansville (29-22 overall) and UIC (32-16 overall) will bring identical 15-9 Missouri Valley Conference records into Thursday’s series opener.  The Purple Aces and Flames currently are tied for second place in the Valley standings, with both Murray State and Illinois State just a game back in the league standings.  If either UE or UIC sweeps this weekend’s series, they will automatically earn the Valley’s No. 2 seed in the upcoming MVC Tournament which will be hosted at Braun Stadium May 21-25.  If UE wins the series and Murray State loses one game at Bradley, then UE would finish second.  If UIC wins the series, it will finish second, as long as Illinois State loses a game to Belmont.
It marks the second-straight year in which UE and UIC meet with conference tournament seedings on the line.  Last year, Evansville won two out of three games against UIC in Chicago, thanks to a dramatic two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning from current senior Kip Fougerousse in a 2-1 series-clinching victory in the regular-season finale.  Fougerousse has been on absolute fire at the plate over the last six games, hitting .583 with four home runs and five multi-hit games over the last six contests.
Overall, graduate outfielder Mark Shallenberger continues to lead the UE offense, as he will bring a .396 batting average into this weekend’s series.  This weekend’s series could determine the winner of the MVC’s Player of the Year award, as Shallenberger and UIC’s Kendal Ewell are two of the top candidates this year.  Ewell currently is one point higher than Shallenberger in the league’s batting title race, as he will bring a .397 average into the weekend set.  Ewell, a transfer from Kentucky, has launched 19 home runs this year, while driving in 63 RBI for the Flames.
Freshman LHP Kenton Deverman (7-1, 3.61 ERA) will get the start for UE in the series opener on Thursday.  UIC has yet to officially announce a starting pitcher for Thursday’s contest.  Right-hander Dillon Schueler (5-2, 6.03 ERA) has been UIC’s traditional opening-game starter this year.