Softball Bears Rally to Knock Off Illinois State in Series Finale
March 17, 2012
The Missouri State softball team (10-8, 1-2) bounced back with a 4-2 win over Illinois State (15-13, 2-1) at Killian Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Senior pitcher Natalie Rose fired her seventh complete game, and second of the weekend, in a seven-strikeout outing to earn the win over ISU hurler Jordan Birch.
"I am proud of the way our team bounced back today," said head coach Holly Hesse. "We made some great defensive plays and Rose was phenomenal in the circle. She was definitely the stronger pitcher on day two. We also got good at-bats from our freshmen against Birch. Rebecca (McPherson) and Chelsea (Jones) came up huge at the plate."
McPherson led the Bears with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate. She also scored a run, drove in a run and stole a base as she was a pivotal part of every Bears' scoring inning.
Rose finished the game strong after allowing two runs in the top of the first. She gave up just four hits over the final six innings and recorded all seven strikeouts after ISU had scored, including the final out of the game with the bases loaded.
The Bears rallied from a two-run deficit in the bottom of the first. Kirstin Cutter and Rebecca McPherson singled back-to-back to lead off the inning. Stevie Pierce sacrificed the runners into scoring position. Two batters later, Chelsea Jones lined a single to left field that tied the game at 2-2.
Missouri State forged ahead in the third inning. Back-to-back fielding miscues by Illinois State put Cutter and McPherson at third and first, respectively. A delayed double steal pushed to go-ahead run across the plate with the benefit of a Bears' hit in the inning.
The Bears added an insurance run in the fourth. Pinch hitter Kerri Cunningham led off with a single and was sacrificed into scoring position by Raeven Replogle. Two batters later, McPherson singled up the middle to plate Cunningham and give the Bears a 4-2 advantage.
Illinois State's only real threat after the first inning came in their final at-bat. A leadoff walk and an infield single put two runners on with no outs. But Rose induced a groundout and got a strike out before issuing an intentional walk to Jhavon Hamilton. With the bases loaded and two outs, Rose struck out ISU's Lauren Kellar swinging to seal the win for the Bears.
The win was MSU's first regular season victory over the Redbirds since 2009 and first home regular season win since March 22, 2008. The Bears end a season-long four-game skid with the win.
Missouri State will host Kansas in a 3:00 p.m. doubleheader to wrap up the home stand on Tuesday (March 20) before embarking on a nine-game road trip next week. After the KU games, MSU will head to Eastern Illinois (March 22), Evansville (March 24-25), Drake (March 31-April 1) and UMKC (April 3) before returning home next month.