Softball Takes Two to Open Blues City Classic
Feb. 21, 2014
SOUTHAVEN, Miss. - The Missouri State softball team (8-2) ran their winning streak to seven games with a pair of victories on the opening day of the Blues City Classic in Southaven, Miss. The Bears won their first game, a 6-4 win over Morehead State (1-5) and took the nightcap by run rule, 8-0 in five innings, over Alabama A&M (6-7). The last time MSU won seven-in-a-row, the Bears won the MVC Tournament in May 2011.
Senior Kerri Cunningham had four hits on the day, three in game two. She also scored twice in the win over AAMU. Fellow senior Stacia Boeckstiegel hit a double and a triple in a three hit day. She scored a run in each game and drove home a run in game one.
Bethany Sullinger remained red-hot at the plate. She went 2-for-3 with a run scored and RBI in the opener against Morehead State. In game two, she was 1-for-1, her first career triple, walked and got hit by a pitch. She scored twice against the Bulldogs and drove in another run. She has scored at least one run or driven in at least one run in each game of the seven-game winning streak.
On the day, the Bears hit four triples. Three triples came in game two against AAMU, the first time since April 2, 1998 against Saint Louis. Two of those triples came in the same inning, a feat last accomplished on March 26, 2011 versus Indiana State
Game 1 - Missouri State 6, Morehead State 4
Morehead State got a run back in the top of the third and the Bears responded in the bottom half of the frame. Brentz drew another walk to begin the inning. Boeckstiegel dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move her into scoring position. Sullinger continued to rally with a single to right putting runners on the corners. After Sullinger stole second, Madison Jones drove in both runners with a triple to the gap in right-center, her first career three-bagger. Chelsea Jones drove in the third run of the inning with a double down the left field line.
The Bears built on the lead in the fourth. Kerri Cunningham reached on a bunt single, but was called out on a close play at second trying to steal. Brentz singled up the middle with two outs to rekindle the rally. Boeckstiegel singled to right-center to put runners at the corners. Boeckstiegel stole second and both runners moved up on a wild pitch, scoring a run in the inning.
Morehead State inched back with two runs in the fifth and added one in the seventh, but Erin Struemph came on to record her first career save. She struck out the first batter she faced, making it seven-straight appearances with at least one strikeout.
Chelsea Jones started and pitch 6.1 innings to pick up her third victory of the season. She struck out three Eagles and didn't allow a walk.
Game 2 - Missouri State 8, Alabama A&M 0 (5 innings)
The Bears added to the lead in the third. Boeckstiegel began the inning with a triple, the first of her career. Sullinger was hit by a pitch and stole second base. Chelsea Jones reached on a fielder's choice giving MSU runners at first and second. Both would score two batters later on the second triple of the inning, this one by Heather Duckworth. It was the first time since 2011 that the Bears had two triples in an inning.
MSU added a run in the fourth as well. Erin Duewel was hit by a pitch to start the rally. Cunningham reached on an infield bunt single for the third time in the game. She stole second and moved to third as Brentz reached on an error. Brentz also stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Allie Alvstad pinch hit and grounded out to short, but picked up her first career RBI on the play.
The Bears finished it off in the fifth. Madison Jones walked to lead off the frame. Back-to-back singles by Duckworth and Braxton Coil loaded the bases. Duewel drew a walk to push the first run home. Two batters later, Brentz walked for the third time on the day to push in the walk off run in an 8-0 victory.
Sophomore pitcher Jessie Van Es pitched her second complete game in a row. She struck out a career-high five and did not walk a batter. She allowed just four hits in her first career shutout.
The Bears will face Appalachian State and host-Memphis on Saturday before wrapping up the weekend against Lipscomb on Sunday morning. The Bears' home opener is slated for March 12 vs. SIU Edwardsville at 5:00 p.m.