Softball Heads to Lone Star State for Five-Game Weekend
Feb. 13, 2014
The Missouri State softball team (1-2) heads to the Lone Star State for five games at the UTA Maverick Invitational in Arlington, Texas. The Bears begin the weekend against host Texas-Arlington and will also face Central Michigan on Friday. MSU plays South Dakota State on Saturday before the four-team tournament enters the semifinal phase later on Saturday afternoon. A championship and consolation game will be played on Sunday to conclude the weekend.
Freshman pitcher Erin Struemph made an immediate impact in the circle for the Bears. Her debut came in relief of game one in which she registered her first strikeout to strand a pair of runners. In game two, she earned the victory with four spectacular relief innings. She struck out six Yellow Jackets, including the side with a pair of runners in scoring position with no outs in her first inning of work. In Sunday's finale, Struemph was handed the ball for her first career start adding three solid innings to her resume before surrendering her first runs against of the weekend.
Senior centerfielder Kerri Cunningham made a successful transition to the leadoff spot in the lineup. She collected a team-high four hits on the weekend and was key to the Bears win on Saturday. She went 2-for-4 in the victory while scoring twice, driving in a run and stealing two bases. She also made a dazzling diving catch in left-center to end the fifth inning.
Fellow senior Heather Duckworth also had a big outing in the win. She went 3-for-4 with an RBI, a run scored and a steal of home. It was her fourth career three-hit game.
Preseason All-MVC selection Mary Stephens picked up a single in each game of Saturday's doubleheader to extend her active hitting streak to eight games, a team high.
ACROSS THE DIAMOND
Central Michigan Chippewas: Central Michigan got off to a fast start going 3-1 at the Rosemont Rumble. The Chippewas got a pair of shutout wins over Valley member Drake and beat UIC before a Sunday defeat to Illinois. Senior pitchers Chelsea Sundberg and Morgan Yuncker threw back-to-back complete game shutouts against Drake. On the offensive side, CMU hit .243 on opening weekend and are led by junior Kristen Kuhlman's .400 average. Junior Trista Cox provided the power for CMU hitting three home runs over the four games. The last time MSU and CMU played was back in 1982 with Central Michigan winning 7-0.
South Dakota State Jackrabbits: South Dakota State struggled to put up runs through the first three games of the Cyclone Invitational, all resulting in losses, before a torrent of runs led to the Jacks first win of the season. SDSU split with MVC foe Indiana State dropping the opening game, 6-2, before wrapping up the weekend with a walk-off 14-12 eight-inning victory. Infielder Elyse Eitel scorched opposing pitching to the tune of a .727 average in an 8-for-11 weekend. The Jacks arms suffered as runs piled up to a 5.38 ERA over the four games. The Bears and Jackrabbits met just two seasons ago in the Mean Green Classic and MSU prevailed with a 7-2 win.
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EXTENDING HER LEGACY
READY FOR TAKE OFF
Her transition to the leadoff role was a success through the first three games of the season. She led the Bears with four hits and two runs scored in the three-game set at Georgia Tech.
In her first at-bat in nearly a year, she put down a perfect sacrifice bunt. But in the sixth inning, she left no doubt with her first career home run, a majestic shot over the left field fence.
BREAKING THE ICE
Freshman pitcher Erin Struemph picked up her first career strikeout in her first outing, ending the sixth inning with a punch out to strand two Yellow Jackets on base. In game two on Saturday, she earned her first career victory while striking out six over four innings of work.
Fellow freshman Madison Jones picked up her first career hit, a solid single through the right side, during game two on Saturday.
Senior Ciara Flau made the most of her opportunity to start on Sunday. She led off the fifth inning against the Yellow Jackets and laced her first career double into the right field corner.