Bears Earn Split on Opening Day at Texas Invitational



AUSTIN, Texas -- The Missouri State softball team kicked-off the 2011 season with an opening day split at the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational, topping Colorado State, 8-2, Friday afternoon before falling to 13th-ranked Texas, 7-1, in the nightcap at Red and Charline McCombs Field. The Bears rode an 11-hit offensive attack and the pitching of freshman right-hander Savannah Wiggins to beat CSU, but fell victim to Rachel Fox’s three-hit, complete game effort for Texas, which improved to 7-0 on the year.

Wiggins scattered seven hits while fanning four Rams to earn the win for the Bears (1-1) in her first game in a Missouri State uniform, and Caitlin Chapin went 4-for-7 on the day to lead the MSU offense.

After finding themselves in an early 2-0 hole, the Bears’ offense exploded to score four runs in the top of the second to take control of the game. MSU, which saw every batter in its starting lineup record a hit, pounded out five hits in the inning before putting the game out of reach with four more runs over the next two frames.

Chapin led the Bears’ hit parade in the opener with a 2-for-4 day that included a double and the ninth homer of her Missouri State career. Lauren Eisenreich also tallied two hits, while Madison Hargrove drove in a pair of runs for MSU.

Colorado State wasted little time in jumping on top, using a two-out rally in the bottom of the first inning to grab a 2-0 lead. After Wiggins retired the first two CSU hitters of the game, Caitlan Stem delivered the first of three straight Ram hits with a single to center. Emily Pohl broke the scoring seal with an RBI-double to left-center, then moved over the third on a passed ball. The next batter, Chelsea Biglow, worked the count full against Wiggins before lining a safety up the middle to chase home Pohl with the Rams’ second run of the inning.

But the Bears responded with their biggest inning of the day, sparked by Chapin’s lead-off homer to left off CSU starter Alexa Cash. Ashley Knehans followed up Chapin’s blast with a walk, and after a pair of groundouts, Hargrove made the most of her first at-bat of the season, lacing a 2-1 offering into left to drive home pinch-runner Raeven Replogle for the tying run.

MSU wasn’t quite finished, as Kirstin Cutter kept the rally alive with a single up the middle. Christa Gammon then lined a base hit to left, and pinch-runner Ciara Flau came all the way around with the go-ahead run when right fielder Morghan Doughty’s throw was off target. Tyler Porter capped the second-inning scoring with the Bears’ third consecutive hit, a single to center that brought in Cutter and chased Cash from the game.

The Bears tacked on two more runs in the third, as Knehans and Eisenreich started off the frame with back-to-back singles, before Wiggins and Hargrove drew walks to force home MSU’s fifth run of the game. Next, pinch-hitter Taylor Farley drove in Eisenreich with a sacrifice fly to center to make it a 6-2 ball game.

MSU added to its margin again in the fourth, plating a pair of runs on RBI-singles by Eisenreich and Wiggins.

Wiggins (1-0) proved to be up to the challenge of her first collegiate start in circle, limiting the Rams to just two hits over the final four innings of the complete-game effort.

In the nightcap, the host Longhorns jumped out to a 1-0 lead just two batters into the contest. Lexy Bennett belted a 2-2 Natalie Rose offering over the center field fence to stake the home team to the early advantage.

Missouri State threatened to even things up in the top of the second, as Chapin plugged the gap in left-center field with a double to lead off the frame. But Fox worked out of the jam with a key double play when Knehans struck-out swinging and catcher Amy Hooks fired to third to catch Chapin stealing.

Fox (3-0) would settle into a groove from that point, retiring four of the next five batters on strikeouts. The freshman right-hander would go on to fan 12 Bears on the night en route to victory.

The Longhorns would cash in at the plate again in the third, scoring four times on a pair of long balls to push their lead to 5-0. Taylor Hoagland led-off the inning with a long clout that cleared the center field wall for a two-run UT advantage. Bennett, who would go 3-for-4 on the night, followed with a double, and Nadia Taylor added a single to set the table for Shelby Savony’s three-run homer to left.

UT added single tallies in the fourth and sixth innings, sandwiching Missouri State’s lone score of the evening in the top of the sixth. Freshman Heather Duckworth made her first at-bat in Maroon and White a memorable one, crushing Fox’s 2-0 pitch over the left-center field wall with two out to momentarily pull the Bears to within five runs.

Rose (0-1) worked a complete game in the loss, striking out seven while walking just one, while Chapin once again led the offense with a 2-for-3 night.

The Bears continue play in the Texas Invitational with an 11 a.m. game Saturday against Wisconsin. By virtue of their 1-1 start to the tournament, the Bears have secured either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in bracket play, and will turn around and take on the Badgers again at 4 p.m.




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