Rallies Fall Short in Losses to Drake, No. 17/20 Minnesota
March 7, 2014
STILLWATER, Okla. - The Missouri State softball team (11-6) suffered a pair of defeats on the opening day of the Oklahoma State Mizuno Classic in Stillwater, Okla., on Friday. The Bears fell to conference foe Drake (6-14), 8-6, in a nonconference matchup. In the second game, MSU dropped an 11-4 decision to No. 17/20 Minnesota (16-2).
Junior Chelsea Jones led the Bears at the plate with a 3-for-4 day. She hit her team-best sixth double, drove in two runs, walked twice and scored a run.
Sophomore Bethany Sullinger drilled her fourth home run of the season and scored in both games. She drove in two with her team-leading fourth long ball of the year. Sullinger scored a run in each game as well.
Three Missouri State pitchers saw action in the circle on the day. Jones started against Drake and struck out three. She had three more strikeouts against Minnesota. Jessie Van Es struck out a pair of Bulldogs in relief. Erin Struemph registered a strikeout against Drake and had five more against Minnesota.
Game 1 - Missouri State 6, Drake 8
After Jones worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the second inning, the Bears added to the lead. Three successive Drake errors to begin the inning allowed the Bears to add a run. Brentz doubled to center to give MSU a couple runners in scoring position, but the Bears were not able to extend the lead further.
Drake put four runs on the board in the third to retake the lead. MSU closed the gap in the bottom of the inning. Chelsea Jones singled with one away. Two batters later, Elena Gambill doubled to right-center pushing Jones home.
DU picked up two more runs in the fourth on a two-out home run. The Bears answered back in their half of the inning. Braxton Coil walked with two down. Bethany Sullinger followed and launched her team-leading fourth home run of the season to pull the Bears within one.
MSU held the Bulldogs to one run over the final three innings. A walk by Jones in the fifth, a single by Coil in the sixth and a double by Jones in the seventh were all stranded as Drake held on for the win.
Game 2 - Missouri State 4, Minnesota 11
Freshman pitcher Erin Struemph settled in a picked up two strikeouts in both the second and third innings to keep the Golden Gophers at bay.
In the fourth inning, Minnesota broke it open with three-straight hits, including back-to-back home runs, to take a 5-0 lead.
The Bears started a rally in the top of the fifth. Erin Duewel began the inning with a walk. Rebecca McPherson singled through the right side. After Duewel stole third, McPherson stole second on the next pitch and the throw went into centerfield allowing Duewel to score. Cunningham singled on the infield, but MSU was unable to add any more runs.
Minnesota added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth on two more home runs.
MSU rebounded in the sixth. Sullinger began the inning with a walk. Duckworth singled to center and both runners moved into scoring position as the ball got away from the centerfielder. Jones dropped a squeeze bunt, but the throw went wide and both runners scored with Jones reaching safely. Duewel continued the inning with another walk, pushing pinch runner Suzanne Allen into scoring position. McPherson put down a bunt and reached on another Minnesota error to load the bases. Three batters later, Brentz drew a walk to give MSU another run.
The Golden Gophers added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth. MSU had one last chance to bat in the top of the seventh. With one out, Duckworth and Jones each drew walks, but they were stranded to end the game.
The Bears' weekend in Stillwater will continue with games against Minnesota (11:00 a.m.) and host Oklahoma State (4:30 p.m.) on Saturday and concludes Sunday with another matchup against the Cowgirls at 12:00 p.m. MSU travels to Conway, Ark., on Tuesday for a rescheduled 5:00 p.m. game against Central Arkansas.
The Bears' home opener is scheduled for March 12 vs. SIU Edwardsville at 5:00 p.m. That game marks the beginning of a five-game home stand that includes the MVC opening series against Bradley (March 15-16).