Softball Bears Fall to Valparaiso at Kansas Invitational



LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Valparaiso scored three times in the top of the third inning and held the Missouri State offense in check throughout the day to come away with a 4-1 decision over the Bears Saturday afternoon at the Kansas Invitational. Sophomore pitcher Sam McGee scattered eight hits over 6 1/3 innings and struck out seven batters to send the Bears (2-11) to their second straight defeat.

Sara Strickland went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored and a walk to pace the Crusader offense, and Kelsey Phalen turned in a 2-for-4 effort that included a run-scoring double as part of Valpo's crucial three-run third.

Strickland sparked the rally with a one-out single through the right side and, following a Tori Brown sacrifice, came all the way around for the game's first run on a Jordan Rutkowski triple to right. Phalen then delivered a two-base hit down the left field line to chase home Rutkowski and hand the Crusaders a 2-0 lead. A Missouri State fielding misuce on a ball hit by Joylyn Ichiyama led to another run before MSU starter Natalie Rose (0-5) could work her way out of the frame.

The Crusaders (14-6) tacked on another run the following inning, as Strickland once again came through with a clutch hit. This time, the sophomore outfielder stroked a two-out single to left that drove in pinch-runner KC Boldt, after Rose had plunked Lisa DeBruzzi with a pitch to set up the scoring opportunity.

McGee, meanwhile, kept the Bears at arm's length, despite giving up a hit in every inning except the third. MSU would match a season high by stranding nine runners on base and fanned a total of eight times against McGee and reliever Shaleigh Jansen, who sat down the final two batters of the game to earn her fifth save of the season.

The Bears lone tally came in the top of the seventh, when senior third baseman Bubba Weiss struck her first career home run off McGee with one out. Christa Gammon followed with her second hit of the afternoon, but Jansen came on to retire Ashley Knehans and Taylor Farley to close the game.

In addition to Gammon's 2-for-4 day, Weiss recorded her first multi-hit game of the season with a 2-for-2 effort at the plate to lead the Bears.

Rose was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits in 5.0 innings of work. Lauren Supak came on in relief for MSU and worked two scoreless innings.

Inclement weather continues to affect the schedule in Lawrence, as the Bears' second game of the day with host Kansas was postponed until Sunday. The two teams will now play a noon double-header at Arrocha Ballpark to wrap up the weekend's slate.



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