Bears Split with Wichita State Behind Supak's Shutout
WICHITA, Kan. -- Junior pitcher Lauren Supak held the Missouri Valley Conference’s top hitting club scoreless in a 5-0, complete-game effort as the Missouri State softball team earned a doubleheader split with Wichita State Thursday (March 26) evening at Wilkins Stadium. After Wichita State claimed a 6-2 win in game one, Supak limited the Shockers to five hits in recording her first shutout as a Bear.
The Bears struck for three runs in the top of the first inning to seize the upper hand in game two, taking advantage of two costly WSU errors and getting RBI hits from Jana Shewmaker and Ashley Knehans.
Leadoff hitter Jenna Schwark set the tone in the Bears’ big inning, belting Kasha Kolb’s first offering into the left-center field gap for a ringing double. Kolb rebounded to retire two of the next three batters, but with runners on first and second, Shewmaker came through with what would prove to be the key at-bat in the inning. Shewmaker looped a single to short center field to bring Schwark home with the first run of the game. Center fielder Lindsie Mitts bobbled the ball then fired wide of third base and into the visiting dugout to allow Jessie Smith to come all the way around as well. Knehans followed with a single to center to plate Shewmaker and give MSU a 3-0 lead.
Missouri State tacked on another unearned run in the second, as Bubba Weiss reached base via a throwing error to start the inning, then came home on a Brianna Smet throwing error on a Schwark infield single. Weiss would later drive in the Bears’ final run of the night on a solid single to right-center to push the margin to 5-0 in the sixth.
Meanwhile, Supak was in control in the circle, holding the Shockers to just one hit through the first four innings. After issuing a walk to Kersti Rowan to lead off the first, Supak retired the next nine batters to allow the Missouri State offense ample time to take control of the contest. She would work out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, getting Kara L’Huillier to fly out to end the Shockers’ biggest scoring threat of the game.
Supak also shut down WSU (12-19, 3-5 MVC) threats in the fourth and seventh innings, getting key ground outs in each en route to her second complete game of the season to help MSU improve to 14-13 overall and 4-4 in MVC play.
MSU’s victory followed a standout pitching performance from Kolb and some timely hitting by the Shockers in game one. The WSU freshman held the Bears to just two runs on five hits while fanning eight hitters to pick up her eighth win, a 6-2, complete-game effort.
The Bears broke on top early in the first game as well, as Smith clubbed her 25th career home run--a two-out, solo shot in the top of the first inning--to stake MSU to a 1-0 advantage.
MSU starting pitcher Lauren McGinley made the lead last through three innings, blanking the Shockers despite issuing four walks. The fourth inning started out innocently for the Bears as well, as McGinley struck out the first two batters before No. 8 hitter Lauren Coleman worked the count full before drawing a walk to extend the inning. The next batter, Mitts, sent a slow roller to shortstop that would have ended another scoreless inning for McGinley, but Smith failed to get a handle on the ball to keep the WSU threat alive.
Given a second chance the Shocker bats came to life, as four of the next five WSU batters recorded hits to chase five unearned runs across the plate. Now working with a 5-1 lead, Kolb continued to cruise, setting down 14 of 15 Missouri State hitters at one point.
Next up, the Bears return home to host Drake for a three-game series this weekend at Killian Softball Stadium. The Bears and Bulldogs will open the set with a noon doubleheader Saturday (March 28), before squaring off in a single game on Sunday, also scheduled for a noon first pitch.