Duckworth Powers Softball Bears to Split at Illinois State
April 6, 2013
NORMAL, Ill. - Junior third baseman Heather Duckworth sparked the Missouri State softball team (15-19, 6-4) to a split at Illinois State (16-15, 2-3) on Saturday afternoon. After the Bears dropped a 1-0 decision in game one, MSU responded with a 7-4 win in game two.
"She was outstanding, a workhorse on the mound today," said head coach Holly Hesse on pitching Chelsea Jones' performance. "To not give up any earned runs against one of the best hitting teams in the league, that's bringing your `A' game. Duckworth really stepped up and lead offensively and defensively. Every time she was up she had a quality at-bat. She really got us off to a good start in game two with that home run and defensively made some good plays."
Duckworth went 3-for-3 in game two, recording four runs batted in. On the day she drew two walks, hit a two-run home run and had a .750 on-base percentage.
Bears' pitching again was solid led by sophomore Chelsea Jones. She tossed her 14th complete game of the year in game one and earned the victory in game two. She scattered seven hits over 10 innings pitched and allowed just an unearned run. Rachel Brisker started game two and gave up just three hits over three-plus innings.
Game 1 - Missouri State 0, Illinois State 1
Senior Stevie Pierce continued to climb the MSU all-time charts as she led off the second inning with her 79th career walk. She takes over third on the all-time list, passing Diedre Shores. The free pass was her team-leading 16th on the season.
Lauren Eisenreich followed Pierce's walk with a line drive single through the left side. Caitlin Chapin sacrificed both runners into scoring position and Stacia Boecksteigel loaded the bases for MSU with a walk. Chelsea Jones hit with the bases loaded and lined to centerfield and the ISU defense was able to cut the runner down at home to end the threat.
In the third inning, Ashley Brentz roped a single into left-center with one down. Duckworth drew her second walk of the game, pushing Brentz into scoring position. After a slow roller by Mary Stephens moved the runners to second and third, ISU was able to end the inning without the Bears getting on the board.
The Bears continued to threaten in the fourth. Chapin drew a one-out walk and Boeckstiegel blooped a single in front of a diving second baseman to get aboard. A wild pitch moved Chapin and pinch runner Ciara Flau into scoring position. Kirstin Cutter was hit by a pitch, loading the bases, but a generous third-strike call ended the inning.
Chapin walked for the second time in the game with one out in the sixth. Boeckstiegel laced a single through the left side. Kerri Cunningham successfully moves both runners up with a grounder back to the pitcher, but the Bears were not able to get on the board.
ISU manufactured the only run of the game in the fifth after an MSU error. Two groundouts moved the runner to third and a two-out base hit was the difference.
Game 2 - Missouri State 7, Illinois State 4
After ISU tied the game on its own two-run homer, the Bears got back to work in the third. Rebecca McPherson led off with a single through the right side. She moved to second on a sac bunt from Cutter and on to third after Brentz singled to right. That brought Duckworth to the plate and she dropped a perfect squeeze bunt giving the Bears the lead again.
The advantage was short lived as ISU tied the game with a lead-off home run in its half of the inning. MSU pitcher Brisker settled in and struck out two batters, stranding a pair on base.
Missouri State erupted in the fourth. Eisenreich began the rally with a solid single up the middle. Chapin attempted a sac bunt, but the little pop up evaded the diving third baseman's glove resulting in a hit. Braxton Coil successfully sacrificed both runners into scoring position, her team-leading seventh sacrifice bunt this season. McPherson grounded to second, but the fielder decided to throw home unsuccessfully, plating the first run of the inning and opening the door. After McPherson stole second, Cutter dropped a double into left field, scoring both runners. A walk to Brentz led ISU to change pitchers, but that didn't stop the Bears. Duckworth singled through the right side driving in the fourth Bears' run of the inning and her fourth RBI of the game.
The Redbirds got a run back in the fourth, but were unable to tally any further runs.
In the seventh inning, Duckworth singled up the middle for her third hit of the game and sixth time on base in eight plate appearances on the day.
The Bears will wrap up the conference series at Illinois State with a single game on Sunday at noon. MSU returns home for a Tuesday contest versus Central Arkansas at 5:00 p.m. at Killian Stadium before setting out for a six-game road swing.