Softball Bears Split With Jayhawks to Conclude Kansas Invitational
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The Missouri State softball team split a pair of games with Kansas on the final day of play at the Kansas Invitational, topping the Jayhawks by an 8-7 score before falling to the host school, 4-3 in the nightcap. The Bears scored seven runs in the first two innings of game one, and held for the one-run victory, while the Jayhawks came from behind to plate the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh inning for a game two win Sunday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark.
MSU registered its best offensive effort of the season in game one, plating five runs in the bottom of the first inning. Alaina Burkhart doubled home Christa Gammon with the game's first run, and the Bears added runs on a Bubba Weiss ground out and an error by third baseman Marissa Ingle. Caitlin Chapin then came through with a two-out, two-run double to right-center to highlight the MSU first that countered the Jayhawks' two-run rally in the top half of the inning.
The Bears added two more runs the following inning, with Burkhart once again playing a key role. The junior transfer started the second-inning rally with a one-out double down the left field line, then came all the way around on a pair of wild pitches after Jenna Schwark drew a walk from KU's Allie Clark.
KU struck for a pair of runs in the fourth, as Brittany Hile's two-run homer brought the Jayhawks to within 7-4.
But MSU would plate what would prove to be the deciding run in the bottom of the inning, and again advanced on a wild pitch before Schwark coaxed a walk and Ashley Knehans recorded a bunt single to load the bases. The Bears would get only a single run out of the scoring opportunity, as Madison Hargrove singled home Schwark with one out.
The Jayhawks score two times in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly from Hile and a run-scoring double from Ingle. KU missed its chance to cut further into the MSU lead, stranding three runners after loading the bases with one out. Bears' starting pitcher Lauren McGinley retired the final two hitters of the inning on ground outs to preserve the two-run margin.
KU's Clark delivered a two-out solo homer in the sixth to pull the Jayhawks to within 8-7, but McGinley (3-4) would close out her third complete-game victory in four starts by retiring four of the last five hitters of the contest in succession.
McGinley won her third game in eight days by scattering 11 hits over 7.0 innings, allowing all seven KU runs. Burkhart, meanwhile, starred for MSU at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, while Schwark scored three times for the Bears.
Vertelka (4-7) suffered the loss after giving up five runs (two earned) in just 0.2 innings of work for Kansas.
KU managed to salvage the final game of the tournament, coming from behind in the late innings to escape with a 4-3 decision.
Missouri State took a 1-0 lead in the third on Taylor Farley's RBI single that brought home Hargrove. The Bears couldn't capitalize on a bases-loaded situation, however, as KU starter Alex Jones (4-3) got Gammon to ground into a fielder's choice and Burkhart to pop up to shortstop to squelch the rally.
MSU senior righty Lauren Supak (0-3) made the lead stand by turning in her best performance of the season to date. She would hold the Jayhawks to two hits through the first four innings, before Jones's two-out single in the fifth scored Sara Ramirez to knot the score at 1-1.
KU seemed to take control of the contest with a two-run rally in the sixth that started after Supak retired the first two hitters of the frame. Clark set the stage by singling to left ahead of a Ramirez walk. Hile then appeared to put the Jayhawks in the driver's seat with a single down the right field line that plated both Clark and Ramirez for a 3-1 KU lead.
The Bears bounced right back with a pair or runs to tie the game in the top of the seventh, courtesy of a Burkhart sac fly and an RBI bunt single by Schwark. However, Mariah Montgomery drove in Jones with the game winner in the bottom half of the inning on a two-out single up the middle. Jones had reached base on a swinging third strike that got by Hargrove for a passed ball.
The Bears (3-11) return to Springfield to open the home portion of their schedule with a doubleheader against IUPUI on Wednesday (March 17). First pitch at Killian Softball Stadium is slated for 4 p.m.