Softball Bears Split with Bradley to Open MVC Series
SPRINGFIELD -- The Missouri State Bears split a Missouri Valley Conference doubleheader with Bradley Saturday afternoon at Killian Stadium, getting a complete-game effort from senior right-hander Lauren Supak to claim a 4-1 victory in game one, before the Braves rebounded for a 6-3 win in the nightcap to stop MSU's six-game MVC win streak. Supak allowed just five hits while fanning six Braves to earn her fifth straight MVC win for the Bears, and Christa Gammon paced the MSU offense, going 3-for-6 with three runs scored on the afternoon.
Supak kept the Braves off the scoreboard until the sixth inning, allowing the Bears' offense time to seize control of a scoreless affair with a three-run third inning. Gammon sparked the rally with a lead-off single, followed by a steal of second base. The MSU junior advanced to third when BU catcher Kate Singler's throw to an unmanned second base on Gammon's steal attempt sailed into centerfield. Kirstin Cutter then delivered an infield single and recorded the Bears' second stolen base of the frame, before Jenna Schwark's sacrifice squeeze plated Gammon with the first run of the contest. Back-to-back walks to Caitlin Chapin and Alaina Burkhart brought home another run, and Lauren Eisenreich capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to right field.
The duo of Gammon and Cutter would strike again the following inning. With one out, Gammon tripled to left-center, and Cutter drove her in with a single through the right side to push the MSU cushion to 4-0.
Bradley would finally crack the scoring column in the sixth inning after its first three batters reached base. Brittany Fairbairn's grounder to second forced home Taylor Cox to slice the MSU lead to three runs.
Supak (6-5) avoided further damage by getting Alison Kresl on a foul-out to shortstop, and Jackie Roth on a called third strike, then closed out the win by retiring the final three BU batters in order in the seventh after hitting Megan O'Malley with a pitch to start the frame.
It was Bradley's turn to jump on top in game two, as the Braves plated a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. BU's first three batters reached to load the bases before Fairbairn hit a grounder to Gammon, who fired home for the first out of the frame. MSU starter Lauren McGinley nearly worked her way out of the jam, getting Singler to chase a third strike for out number two. But Roth stroked a bloop single to right-center to bring home Amanda Clack and Janay Mitchell for an early 2-0 Bradley lead.
The visitors stretched their advantage to 5-0 in the third behind RBI singles from Clack and Roth.
Missouri State would respond with three runs of its own in the bottom half of the third to pull to within 5-3. Gammon reached base with one out after Denise Jilka mishandled a ground ball, and Schwark laid down a bunt single with two out to keep the MSU threat alive. Chapin followed with a line drive off the fence in left-centerfield to drive in Gammon for the first Bear run of the contest. Burkhart then hit a sharp grounder through the legs of Cox at shortstop to bring home both Schwark and Chapin and make it a two-run contest once again.
MSU reliever Natalie Rose came on in relief of McGinley in the midst of Bradley's third-inning rally and responded with four scoreless innings before the Braves got a two-out, run-scoring single from Mitchell in the top of the seventh to push their lead to 6-3.
BU's Katie Dennis (3-5) picked up the complete-game victory after allowing eight hits and no earned runs while striking out five Bears.
McGinley (4-8) was tagged with the loss for MSU after giving up four earned runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings. Rose worked a total of 4 1/3 innings, permitting just the one run on three hits.
Mitchell and Roth each posted three hits in the second game, and combined for eight of BU's 14 hits on the day overall.
The Bears and Braves close out their three-game set Sunday (April 11) with a single contest slated for a noon first pitch at Killian.