Cowgirls Use Clutch Homer, Strong Relief Effort to Top Bears
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Sam Heinlein’s pinch-hit, two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning broke a 2-2 tie and propelled Oklahoma State to a 4-2 victory over the Missouri State softball team Thursday evening at Cowgirl Stadium. With the loss, the Bears saw their three-game win streak come to an end and fell to 18-19 on the season.
With one out in the fifth, Heinlein launched her fourth homer of the season on a 1-1 offering from Lauren Supak after Alysia Hamilton was hit by a Lauren McGinley pitch to lead off the inning. Julie Ward sacrificed Hamilton to second before Supak relieved McGinley to face Heinlein, who pinch-hit for Megan Castle.
Heinlein’s blast made a winner of Anna Whiddon (15-11) who worked three scoreless innings in relief of Sarah Odom. Whiddon worked out of a two-on, out-out jam in the fifth and then recorded the biggest out of the game to thwart another MSU scoring threat in the sixth. The right-hander got the Bears’ top hitter, Jessie Smith to pop up to short to end the inning after MSU had put the tying run on base with two out.
Missouri State again mounted a rally in the seventh, as Jen Carr drew a two-out walk to bring the tying run to the plate. But Whiddon fanned pinch-hitter Christa Gammon to put the final nail in the Bears’ coffin.
The setback for Missouri State came after a promising start to the contest, as the Bears got back-to-back, two-out singles from Ashley Knehans and Jana Shewmaker to bring home Brooke Kempker with the game’s first run in the top of the first inning.
Oklahoma State responded immediately in the bottom half of the inning, however, as the first four batters reached base--three via base hits. Mariah Gearhart led-off the frame with a single to left, swiped second for her 29 steal of the season and then came around on Hamilton’s base hit to center. Ward followed with another hit to drive in Katelyn Bright and give OSU a 2-1 lead.
Missouri State drew even in the third, as Smith added to her school-record home run total by leading off the inning with her sixth long ball of the season. The homer for the Blue Springs, Mo., native pushed her career total to 26 and pulled her to within one run scored of the MSU record in that category as well.
McGinley (9-9) dropped her fifth straight decision after permitting three runs on seven hits and a pair of walks in 4 1/3 innings. With Heinlein’s home run, Supak saw her string of 24 1/3 consecutive innings pitched without allowing an earned run come to an end.
The Bears got two-hit nights from Kempker, Shewmaker and Jenna Schwark, but the bottom half of the MSU lineup struggled against OSU pitching, combining to go 0-for-11.
Up next, the Bears return to Killian Softball Stadium Saturday to begin a three-game set with the Missouri Valley Conference-leading Creighton Bluejays. Six MSU seniors will be honored on the field prior to the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, which is slated for a Noon first pitch.