Bears Rally, Fall in Quarterfinals of MVC Tournament
May 8, 2014
NORMAL, Ill. - The Missouri State softball team (28-27) saw its season come to the end in an 8-5 defeat to Bradley (25-30) in the quarterfinals of the MVC Tournament on Thursday evening. The Bears rallied from a four-run deficit and held a brief lead in the top of the sixth.
Junior Rebecca McPherson led the Bears with a 2-for-3 game. She drove in three runs on her first home run of the season.
Seniors Stacia Boeckstiegel and Ashley Brentz each recorded a hit in their final game. Boeckstiegel drove in a run. Fellow senior Heather Duckworth had five assists at third base, her 376th on her career, the fifth-most in MSU history.
Chelsea Jones started in the circle and tossed three innings. She struck out two and was tagged with the only walk of the game. Erin Struemph entered in relief and suffered the defeat. She also had two strikeouts in the game. Struemph ends her season with 155 strikeouts, the most by a freshman since 1987.
Neither team was able to generate any offense through the first two innings of the game. In the top of the third inning, Rebecca McPherson dropped a single into right field to begin the inning. She was cut down attempting to steal and the Bears did not score in the inning.
Bradley looked to be going quietly in the third as Jones recorded two outs on two pitches. But a four-pitch walk opened the door and the Braves turned it into a three-run inning.
The Braves added a run in the fourth to push the advantage to 4-0.
Missouri State responded in the top of the fifth. Bethany Sullinger blooped a single down the right field line to begin the rally. Chelsea Jones drew a walk and was pinch run for by Olivia Roark. Stacia Boeckstiegel followed a singled up the middle to plate the Bears' first run. Rebecca McPherson stepped in a drilled her first home run of the season, a three-run shot to left, to tie the game. With two away, Ashley Brentz singled to left, but the Bears were not able to take over the lead.
Heather Duckworth began the Bears' sixth inning with a walk. Two batters later, she was replaced at first on a fielder's choice by Chelsea Jones. Then with two outs, Boeckstiegel flew to shallow right-center and the Bradley fielders collided, dropping the ball and allowing Jones to score from first.
Bradley got four runs on four hits, capped by a grand slam to retake the lead in the bottom of the sixth.
Down to their last at-bat, the Bears got to work in the seventh. Elena Gambill reached on a fielding error to begin the inning. Pinch hitter Allie Alvstad lined a single to left field. Two batters later, Kerri Cunningham grounded out to move both runners into scoring position. Duckworth then sent a deep drive to centerfield, but the ball hung up long enough to be caught to end the game.
Missouri State ends its season with a winning record for the first time in three seasons. Head coach Holly Hesse picked up her 69th career win in the MVC Tournament earlier today, the most by any Valley coach in tournament history.