Solid Pitching Helps Bears Earn Split at Missouri Tournament



COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Paced by senior right-hander Lauren McGinley's second complete-game victory in as many days, the Missouri State softball team concluded play at the Missouri Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament by splitting a pair of games Sunday to finish the weekend with a 2-2 mark against the state's other four Division I programs.

After helping MSU earn its first win of the season with a complete-game effort against SEMO Saturday, McGinley (2-3) turned in a three-hit shutout Sunday to lift the Bears past UMKC by a 3-0 score. The Oklahoma City native retired nine straight hitters from the fourth inning until Brittany Ric's pinch-double with one out in the seventh, and permitted just two walks on the night.

The Bears' offense gave McGinley all the support she would need with a three-run third inning, sparked by back-to-back singles by Jenna Schwark and Christa Gammon with one out. After an Alaina Burkhart fly out, Ashley Knehans came through with an RBI single to right to drive in Schwark with the first run of the contest. Gammon then came home on a double steal attempt that also netted Knehans' first career stolen base. Lauren Eisenreich capped the scoring with one of her three hits in the game, this one a base knock to left.

Schwark and Eisenreich each went 3-for-3 to account for six of MSU's eight hits in the contest.

The victory for Missouri State came on the heels of a hard-luck, 2-1 setback to Saint Louis in the first game of the day. The Billikens plated the winning run when Natalie Rose plunked SLU's Kelly Flanagan with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the eighth inning.

That outcome did little to overshadow a complete-game effort from Rose (0-4), in which the MSU sophomore allowed just four hits and one earned run while striking out nine Billikens in 7 2/3 innings.

Missouri State struck for a single run in the top of the first on Knehans' RBI fielder's choice. Rose made the lone tally stand until the bottom of the sixth. when Kristen Nicoletti singled to lead-off the frame, stole second and, following a sac bunt from Jessica Buschjost, came home on a sacrifice fly by Nicki Jost.

The Bears missed a golden opportunity to score in the top of the decisive eighth inning after loading the bases with just one out. SLU reliever Kelcie Matesa (3-3) came up big for the Billikens, getting Taylor Farley and Stevie Pierce to look at third strikes to strand all three baserunners and squelch the MSU scoring threat.

Missouri State (2-9) will be back in action Tuesday (March 9) with a single road contest against SIU Edwardsville at 2 p.m.



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