Resilient Bears Get 8-2 Win to Split Conference Opening Doubleheader
March 16, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State softball team (10-12, 1-1) bounced back from a tough 4-3, nine-inning loss in game one to split the conference-opening doubleheader with visiting UNI (11-16, 1-1) by beating the Panthers in game two, 8-2. Saturday's doubleheader marked the first home games for the Bears at Killian Stadium this season.
"I thought we did everything right, except win game one," said head coach Holly Hesse. "It was a great defensive effort and we hit one of the best pitchers in the league. I was really excited that we came back so strong and had a decisive win in game two. A lot of credit has to go to Jessie (Van Es) on the mound."
Senior Kirstin Cutter had a phenomenal day with five hits, including a 4-for-4 performance in game two. She drove in two runs and scored five times in the twin bill.
Four other Bears recorded three hits apiece in the doubleheader. Junior Heather Duckworth went 3-for-4 in game one, scored a run and drove in three runs on the day. Freshman Mary Stephens drove in a pair of runs and scored once. Kerri Cunningham legged out the first Bears' triple of the season among her three hits. She drove in a run and scored on the day. Lauren Eisenreich also tallied three hits, driving in a run and smacking a double.
Sophomore Chelsea Jones pitched nine solid innings in the loss to the reigning Valley champions. She struck out three Panthers in the longest outing of her career. Freshman Jessie Van Es put up 6.2 stellar innings to earn the win in game two. She also recorded three strikeouts and the Bears have earned win in each of her last three starts.
Game 1 - Missouri State 3, UNI 4 (9 innings)
The Bears jumped out to the early lead in the bottom of the first. Cutter reached on a bunt single, setting the tone for the inning. Cunningham followed and sacrifice bunted her to second. The next batter, Duckworth singled through the right side plating Cutter for the early advantage.
In the third inning, Cutter again sparked an MSU rally by reaching on a Panthers' error. Cunningham came up and drilled a triple to center field, scoring Cutter on the play. Duckworth again came through dropping a single into right field to push Cunningham in and give the Bears a 3-0 lead.
The Panthers finally got on the board in the fifth. Nicole Fisher, twin sister of UNI pitcher Jamie Fisher, hit a leadoff home run to right to cut the Bears' lead to 3-1.
Missouri State looked to rally again in its half of the fifth. Duckworth and Stephens produced back-to-back singles through the left side with one away. However, the reigning MVC Pitcher of the Year was able to wiggle out of trouble, not allowing a run in the inning.
Then in the sixth, UNI put together three bases hits and drew two walks, one intentional. MSU limited the damage with an inning ending double play to keep the game tied.
That's where the game stood as the teams headed to extra innings for the third time in the last four meetings. Jones allowed a one hit in each of the next three innings with the decisive knock coming in the ninth off the bat of UNI's Haley Kriener. Her solo home run put the Panthers ahead for the first time on the day.
In the Bears' half of the ninth, Eisenreich roped a single through the left side with one away. Down to their last out, Cutter again reached as her speed forced the second UNI error of the game. Cutter stole second, but MSU was unable to tie the game in a game one extra inning defeat.
Game 2 - Missouri State 8, UNI 2
UNI tied the game in the second after three-consecutive singles and a sacrifice fly. In MSU's half, a pair of singles by Braxton Coil and Cutter chased UNI starting pitcher Mackenzie Flaws, but the Bears were held scoreless in the inning.
In the third inning, MSU got a leadoff walk from Duckworth. Stephens legged out an infield single and both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Stevie Pierce. Eisenreich dropped a bunt in front of the plate, scoring Duckworth from third. The UNI pitcher's throw to the plate was errant, allowing Stephens to score from second to give the Bears a 3-1 lead.
The Bears upped the advantage in the fourth. Cutter started the rally with a one-out infield single. Cunningham followed and reached on a fielding error to give the Bears two on with one away. Two batters later, Stephens singled to left, scoring Cutter.
Missouri State broke the game open in the fifth. Eisenreich singled through the left side to start the inning. Rebecca McPherson reached on a fielder's choice and Coil walked, giving MSU a pair of runners. Ashley Brentz singled sharply to right, loading the bases. With a drawn in infield, Cutter singled up the middle plating two runs. Cunningham dropped a perfect bunt for another infield single to reload the bases. Duckworth followed with an RBI fielder's choice that put runners at the corners for MSU. On the next pitch, Duckworth drew a throw attempting to steal and remained in the rundown long enough for Cutter to score the fourth Bears' run of the inning.
UNI would plate a run in the seventh and chase Van Es after three consecutive hits. Jones came on the get the final out and preserve the win for the Bears.
The Bears will wrap up the conference series on Sunday with a 12:00 p.m. first pitch. The home stand will continue with a doubleheader against UMKC on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m.