April 7, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State softball team suffered another setback in a 5-0 shutout to Bradley (15-20, 5-7) at Killian Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Bears fell to 17-16 overall and with the loss to the Braves, they are now tied for sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference standings with Bradley at 5-7.
The Braves benefitted from a strong second inning where they scored four out of their five runs. After they got their fifth tally, Missouri State sent in pitcher Natalie Rose to close out the game. In her three innings of scoreless relief, Rose struck out five batters and logged just one walk.
Bradley's starting pitcher MacKenzie Camp came up big for the Braves throwing a complete game shutout on 99 pitches. In all, the Bears had seven runners left on base, with five in scoring position.
"I felt like today we hit the ball better than they did," head coach Holly Hesse said after the 5-0 loss. "The hits were even at 7, but we hit three balls to the wall and several hard shots through the middle, whereas they blooped a lot of balls in over the infield, so I felt good about what we did at the plate. It was also exciting to see Natalie [Rose] come back out and throw three shutout innings and get back on track with that."
Carrying momentum from yesterday's 4-2 win, sophomore Ashley Brentz continued her hot hitting in the first inning with a stand-up double to the left-center gap. With Pierce on third and zero outs, the Bears failed to convert and left two stranded to end the inning.
Facing Bears' pitcher Chelsea Jones, the Braves carved out a 4-0 lead in the second. Bradley shortstop Alex Chandler delivered a base hit to left field, hitting in Alyson Clemente. The next run came when MSU shortstop Kirstin Cutter let a grounder get past, allowing Brianne Joseph to score. With two outs and runners on second and third, No. 2 hitter Jackie Roth popped up into shallow right center and all three Bears within reach were not able to come up with play, scoring two more runs for the Braves.
In the bottom of the third with no runs on the board, Missouri State loaded up the bases with just one out. The Braves got the force out at home off of sophomore Heather Duckworth's grounder down the third base line. Following Duckworth, catcher Stacia Boeckstiegel swung for the fences on her first pitch and came up empty sending one to deep right field to end the inning.
Trying to fake the throw to second and hold the runner at first, Boeckstiegel fumbled the ball backwards allowing Bradley's Brianne Joseph to score on the play. It marked the first error on the season for Boeckstiegel.
After giving up six runs in seven innings during game one against the Braves, Natalie Rose entered the game at the beginning of the fifth. The two-time MVC Pitcher of the Week this season was a spark for the Missouri State defense on Saturday. Rose struck out the second and third batter for the first 1-2-3 inning of the day for the Bears.
In the sixth, Missouri State came up with two more big stops on defense. The first coming as reserve outfielder Kerri Cunningham covered a good amount of ground to make a diving catch in shallow center. The next came to end the inning with a nice snag by Duckworth at third base.
Both Chelsea Jones and Ashley Brentz went 2-for-3 at the plate on Saturday. During the series, Brentz batted an impressive 6-for-8 (.750) with two runs and one RBI for the Bears.
Missouri State will resume its homestand with a one-game series against Tulsa on Wednesday at 5 p.m., followed by a weekend series with MVC opponent Southern Illinois, April 14-15.