Rose, Gammon Spark Bears? Doubleheader Sweep of North Texas
DENTON, Texas — The Missouri State softball team got standout pitching from Natalie Rose and five hits from Christa Gammon to post a doubleheader sweep of North Texas with a 1-0 win in game one and a 8-5 decision in the nightcap. Rose blanked North Texas on three hits to pitch the Bears to the opening game victory, and MSU struck for six third-inning runs in the finale to end the Mean Green’s five-game win streak.
Rose (3-4) was in command throughout the first game of the day, striking out eight hitters and limiting the Mean Green to just five base-runners. The junior retired 10 batters in-a-row following Mariza Martinez’s lead-off double in the second.
While Rose was in control in the circle, the Bears had difficulties generating any offense of their own against North Texas right-hander Brittany Simmons. MSU had a prime scoring chance in the top of the third, as Gammon recorded the first of three straight hits for the Bears with one out. Stevie Pierce and Jenna Schwark followed with singles, but Gammon was thrown out at the plate trying to score, and Simmons retired Caitlin Chapin on a pop-up to end the inning.
Missouri State finally broke through in the fifth by capitalizing on a North Texas miscue to score the lone tally of the contest. With one out, Tyler Porter reached base via a Lesley Hirsch error, and Gammon promptly drove her in with a run-scoring double to left-center.
Rose would shut the door by working around a one-out walk in the bottom half of the fifth. The right-hander would fan four of the final nine batters of the game, including a called third strike on Maddelyn Fraley to end the game with the tying run on base.
While game one featured a pitcher’s duel, offense was the name of the game in the second contest of the day. The home team struck first, scoring a single run in the bottom of the first on an RBI-double by Mallory Cantler. Missouri State answered right away, getting a run-scoring double from starting pitcher Savannah Wiggins to even the score.
North Texas came back with a run in the bottom of the second to momentarily take the lead again, but Wiggins worked out of a bases-loaded jam by retiring Cantler on a liner to third to avoid the big inning.
That would prove to be the turning point of the game for Missouri State, as the Bears erupted for six runs on just three hits in the top of the third. MSU once again took advantage of some shaky North Texas defense to take control, as the Mean Green committed four errors that resulted in all six runs being charged as unearned.
Gammon was once again at the heart of the matter for the Bears, leading off the critical inning with the first of her two doubles in the game. After Pierce drew a walk from Ashley Kirk, Schwark reached on a throwing error that allowed Gammon to come around with the tying run. Next, Kirk got Chapin to chase a third strike in the dirt, but Mean Green catcher Caitlin Grimes fired wildly to first, allowing Pierce to score and giving the Bears a pair of runners in scoring position.
Kirk fanned Ashley Knehans for the first out of the frame, but Schwark came home on another throwing error by Grimes, and Raeven Replogle followed with a run-scoring hit to make it a 5-2 contest. Wiggins then hit into a fielder’s choice, but yet another North Texas miscue allowed her to reach base and keep the rally alive. A double-steal attempt by Wiggins and Replogle netted MSU’s fifth run of the inning, and Kirstin Cutter capped the scoring with an RBI-double to right to bring home Wiggins.
The Mean Green plated single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but could not break through against the Bears’ pitching. Rose relieved Wiggins in the fifth after North Texas got a run-scoring hit from Grimes to pull to within 8-4. She would close out the win by allowing just one run on two hits over the final three innings to earn the save.
Gammon led the way for the Bears at the plate all day, going 5-for-9 with three doubles, an RBI and a run scored.
Up next, the Bears (5-6) will travel to Norman, Okla., this weekend to take part in the four-team Oklahoma Spring Festival, as Missouri State will take on Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 11 a.m., in the first of two games Saturday (March 12). MSU will also play Indiana at 1:15 p.m., before playing host Oklahoma at 12:15 p.m. Sunday.