Softball Bears Top UAPB, Indiana to Extend Win Streak to Four Games



NORMAN, Okla. -- The Missouri State softball team posted wins of 4-3 over Arkansas-Pine Bluff and 3-2 over Indiana on the opening day of play at the Oklahoma Spring Festival. Stevie Pierce's two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning proved to be the difference against UAPB, and the Bears got a complete-game effort from Natalie Rose in the nightcap to run their season-long win streak to four games with their second victory of the season over a Big Ten foe.

Missouri State made the most of its three hits in game two, scoring the winning run in the top of the eighth inning on a Jenna Schwark sacrifice fly. Rose (4-4) worked all eight innings against the Hoosiers (10-9), allowing just two runs on seven hits while fanning seven batters.

The Bears appeared to be on their way to a victory without the aid of extra innings when they used a pair of sacrifice bunts to move Raeven Replogle into scoring position following a lead-off walk and scored the go-ahead run on a Taylor Farley pinch-double in the top of the seventh.

But IU knotted the score at 2-2 in the bottom half of the frame against Rose on a Breanna Saucedo two-out, RBI-double.

The late action followed a pitcher's duel over the first six innings, as Rose, Hoosier starter Sara Olson and reliever Morgan Melloh combined to give up a total of two runs. Indiana struck first, as Melloh led-off the third inning with a solo shot to right field to stake the Hoosiers to a 1-0 lead.

MSU answered in its next at-bat, as Pierce reached base via a lead-off walk, then came around on an Ashley Knehans sacrifice fly.

Rose earned her second straight win, while Mellow dropped to 8-9 on the season after being tagged with the tough-luck loss.

In game one, Missouri State scored all four of its runs over the first two innings, countering the Lady Lions' two-run first inning with RBI-singles from Schwark and . But it was Pierce's first homer of the 2011 season that made the biggest impact. With one out in the second, Kirstin Cutter set the stage by singling to left-center field, then swiping second base to put the go-ahead run in scoring position.

After a Christa Gammon ground out, Pierce belted a CeCe Kolesar offering over the fence in right-center to give the Bears a 4-2 lead.

From that point, three Missouri State pitchers combined to keep the Lady Lions at bay. After UAPB sliced the lead in half with a single tally in the fourth inning, the Lady Lions' put their lead-off hitter on base with the tying run the following inning.

Rose entered the game and promptly shut the door for good on UAPB's comeback bid. After beaning the first batter she faced to put two runners on, Rose struck-out the side for the first three of her seven strikeouts over three innings. The right-hander would fan two hitters in both the sixth and seventh innings to notch second save in as many games.

In addition to Pierce's big hit, the Bears got three hits from Schwark, as well as a 2-for-2 day from starting pitcher Savannah Wiggins (3-1), who allowed two earned runs over three innings of work.

The Bears (7-6) will aim for their fifth consecutive win and their first against a ranked opponent in three years when they take on No. 10 Oklahoma at 12:15 p.m. Sunday. MSU will then wrap up play in the tournament with a final game against a to-be-determined opponent in the championship round.




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