Softball Bears Earn a Split to Open Centenary Tournament



SHREVEPORT, La. -- The Missouri State softball team kicked off its 2009 season by splitting a pair of games Friday (Feb. 6) at the Centenary Tournament. Behind Lauren McGinley’s six-hit shutout, the Bears topped Boston College, 1-0, but dropped a hard-luck 4-3 decision to Nicholls State in their second game of the night.

McGinley mastered the Eagles in game one, allowing just a first-inning double to Amy Tunstall and five singles while fanning three batters. BC posted five hits in the first four innings, but the Bears’ junior righty settled into a groove and retired 12 of the ballgame’s final 14 batters for her first complete-game shutout as a collegiate.

The Bears struck for the lone run in the contest in the top of the third, getting a one-out sacrifice fly from Elysha Swider to plate the go-ahead run off BC starter Taylor Peyton. Singles by Christa Gammon and Jessie Smith sparked the rally, as MSU put its first three batters on base in the inning before Jen Carr’s comebacker to the mound forced Gammon at the plate. But Swider came through, flying to center to bring Jenna Schwark home and give McGinley all the run support she would need.

Missouri State would post only two additional hits over the rest of the game, both coming from senior first baseman Jana Shewmaker, who singled in the second before belting a double with two-out in the fourth.

In the nightcap, the Bears fell victim to the performance of Nicholls State pitcher Audrey Wood, who delivered a one-out solo shot in the top of the seventh inning to break a 3-3 tie. Wood (1-0) was also solid in the circle, limiting the Bears to two earned runs and five hits while striking out seven hitters.

The Bears got on the board first against the Colonels, as Smith would blast a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning to give MSU a 2-0 lead. Her 21st long ball as a Bear, it gave the Blue Springs, Mo., native sole possession of the top spot on the Bears’ career home run list, surpassing Ashley Meredith, whom she tied for the mark last May at the State Farm MVC Tournament.

Nicholls State tallied a single run in the third inning, as Wood singled up the middle of Bears’ starter Lauren Supak to drive in  Karla Troxler and make it a one-run affair. The Colonels would break through for two runs in the fourth to take a brief lead, aided by a rare Missouri State error.

Smith led off the bottom half of the fourth with a single to center and advanced to second on Ashley Knehans’ sacrifice bunt. After Swider went down looking for out No. 2, Smith went to third on a wild pitch and came home on an error by NSU third baseman Kayla Watterson to even the score.

After a pair of scoreless innings by both hurlers and an infield pop-up by Danielle Clayton to start the seventh, Wood launched the game-winner, hitting Supak’s offering over the left field wall to break the deadlock.

Smith and senior outfielder Ashley Arbon would both post two-hit games for the Bears against NSU, while Supak (0-1) worked 6.1 innings, allowing nine hits and three earned runs in her MSU debut.

The Bears (1-1) are back in action Saturday (Feb. 7) in Shreveport with a 3:30 p.m. contest against Centenary and a 7:30 game with Bryant. MSU will conclude the tournament Sunday (Feb. 8) when they take on SIU-Edwardsville at 11:30 a.m.


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