Softball Bears' Bats Erupt in Doubleheader Sweep of IUPUI
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- After struggling at the plate throughout much of the first month of the season, the Missouri State softball team clearly was glad to be home, as the Bears put on a record-setting offensive display in their first two games of the year at Killian Softball Stadium. MSU pounded IUPUI pitching for six home runs and 29 hits to run away with 12-4 and 17-2 victories in sweeping a doubleheader from the Jaguars Wednesday afternoon.
The Bears' 17 runs in game two marked their best single-game offensive output since scoring 20 runs against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in February 2007, and MSU's 29 runs on the day represents the highest combined total in back-to-back games on record at Missouri State.
Bubba Weiss led the Missouri State attack with six hits and five RBIs on the afternoon. The senior third baseman went 4-for-4 with a key first-inning, two-run single and a home run in game one, before tallying two more hits and a pair of RBIs in the nightcap.
Continuing a recent hot streak that saw her record hits in seven of her last eight games, Christa Gammon sparked Missouri State rallies in both games, going 3-for-6 with four runs scored and a pair of steals. Alaina Burkhart also came through with a big day, going 3-for-6 with four RBIs and three runs scored, while Caitlin Chapin went 2-for-3 with four RBIs in the second game for MSU.
The Bears wasted little time in jumping all over IUPUI starting pitcher Nicole Natter in the first game, as the first six batters reached base before the Jaguars recorded a single out in the bottom of the first inning. Gammon doubled to left-center to kick-off the rally, and Burkhart drew a walk to set up the rally. After a double steal put runners on second and third, Jenna Schwark plated the first run of the day with a squeeze bunt that brought in Gammon.
Next, Ashley Knehans hit a soft liner that Natter couldn't corral to load the bases, and Weiss drove home Burkhart and Schwark with a line drive off shortstop Alicia Garrison's glove to make it a 3-0 contest. After Lauren Eisenreich's fielder's choice resulted in the first out of the inning, Raeven Replogle coaxed a bases-loaded walk for the fourth MSU run, and Taylor Farley delivered a two-run single to center to put the Bears up 6-0.
MSU wasn't quite done, as Gammon drew a walk before Burkhart made her first homer as a Bear a memorable one. The junior belted the first pitch she saw from Natter over the right field wall for a grand slam and a 10-run lead.
IUPUI struck back with a pair of runs in the second, getting four straight hits to begin the frame, including RBI singles by Amy Raker and Alicia Hayes.
Weiss countered with her second home run of the season to lead-off the second to make it an 11-2 ballgame, but the Jaguars responded with a two-spot in the third on back-to-back run-scoring doubles by Leah Prewitt and Sydney Miller to pull to within seven runs. MSU ended the game in the sixth as Stevie Pierce's one-out line drive to left scored Schwark to enact the eight-run rule.
Game two brought a similar result, as Missouri State struck for five runs in the first and six more in the second inning to establish an 11-2 lead.
Gammon got the offense in gear once again, lining the first pitch of the inning through the left side for a base hit ahead of Weiss's RBI single. Knehans then sent her third homer of the season over the wall in center for a 4-1 MSU lead. Freshman Madison Hargrove followed with her first collegiate home run to extend her hit streak to six games. MSU got another long ball in the second, this time from Schwark. The Bears would tack on a single run in the third and five more in the fourth, highlighted by Chapin's two run shot, to put the game out of reach.
The Bears (5-12) will be back in action Thursday, as they host Rutgers in a 4 p.m. doubleheader at Killian Stadium.