Bears Drop a Heartbreaker to North Dakota State, 1-0
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State softball team wasted another standout performance from reigning Valley pitcher of the week Natalie Rose Tuesday evening, falling to visiting North Dakota State, 1-0 at Killian Stadium. Rose allowed just five hits and a single unearned run, but NDSU's Whitney Johnson was just as effective for the Bison in a five-hit shutout of the Bears.
Johnson (4-7) allowed just two hits to leave the infield and struck-out seven Bears in the complete-game effort. She would wiggle her way out of trouble repeatedly in the late innings, as MSU left at least two runners on base in three of the final four frames and saw their seventh-inning rally end on a gut-wrenching double play.
NDSU relied almost exclusively on the right arm of Johnson after Brea Konz scored the lone run of the game with two out in the top of the fourth inning when MSU second baseman Christa Gammon misfired to first on the back end of a double-play attempt.
The Bears (7-9) answered with a scoring chance of their own in the bottom half of the fourth, as Jenna Schwark and Stevie Pierce drew walks to start the inning. After Caitlin Chapin went down swinging at a third strike for the first out of the inning, Raeven Replogle was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
But Ashley Knehans got caught looking at a third strike, and Johnson retired Madison Hargrove on a pop-up to second to thwart the rally.
The Bison would end the contest with an unlikely 3-2-4 double play, when Schwark laced a sharp grounder that first baseman Jamie Gay threw home for the second out and catcher Jenina Orgtega returned to first, where second baseman Brandi Enriquez was waiting to just nab Schwark for the final out of the game.
Rose worked out of jams in each of the first three innings after the Bison put at least one runner in scoring position with less than two out in all three frames. After Nicole Rivera led-off the game with a base hit and moved over to second on a ground out, Rose struck-out the next two hitters to squash the early threat. The following inning she worked around a Konz leadoff double by getting Taylor Mortensen and Ortega to pop-up to avoid any damage. Then, with one out in the third, Rivera singled again before stealing second to set up another scoring opportunity for the Bison.
But Rose got Elisa Victa on a grounder to second, then coaxed a fly ball to center off the bat of Kristina Victa to end the inning.
The Bison would finally break through for the game's only tally in the fourth, as Konz singled and Gay was struck by a pitch with one out to set the table for NDSU. Rose appeared to have once again worked her way out of trouble when Gammon fielded a Mortensen ground ball and tagged Gay for the second out. But the senior's throw to first sailed wide of the first base bag and into the visitor's dugout to allow Konz to come all the way around.
Rose (4-7) was tagged with her second 1-0 defeat in three games after falling by the same score Sunday at No. 10 Oklahoma. She did, however, hike her season total to seven complete games in just 11 starts.
Kirstin Cutter led the Bears' offense with a pair of hits in three at-bats, and Schwark added a single and a walk.
Rivera and Konz each recorded two hits to pace the Bison, who improve to 8-17 on the season.
MSU will be back in action Wednesday afternoon at Killian, where they will meet Minnesota in a 4:30 p.m. contest.