Softball Bears' Bats Silent in 4-0 Setback at Tulsa



TULSA, Okla. -- After a promising 5-0 start to their longest road swing of the season, the Missouri State softball team dropped its third straight contest Thursday, as Tulsa's Aimee Creger held the Bears to just two hits in a complete-game, 4-0 shutout at Donna J. Hardesty Sports Complex. Creger fanned 13 MSU batters to notch her 20th victory of the season, while the Golden Hurricane offense came to life midway through the game to score in three consecutive innings to gain control for good.

Creger (20-2) gave up a first-inning base hit to Tyler Porter, then promptly retired the next seven hitters before Kirstin Cutter would lead-off the fourth with an infield single for the Bears' final hit of the game. TU's freshman right-hander walked a pair in the fifth, but cruised to the finish line by setting down the last eight batters of the contest--five via strikeout.

Bears' starter Natalie Rose appeared to be in command early, matching Creger over the first 2 2/3 innings by retiring the first eight Golden Hurricane hitters of the ball game.

But Kelly Chapman sparked a two-out rally in the third, doubling to left field to give Tulsa the game's first scoring opportunity. Caitlin Everett advanced Chapman to third with a single to right and moved up to second on the return throw, before Jill Barrett put the Golden Hurricane on top with an infield hit to short.

Rose would avoid further damage in the frame by striking out Samanth Cobb, but the junior right-hander would once again find trouble in the fourth. Creger reached base via an error to lead-off the inning, and Sklar Swanson moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt to set the table. Rose got Lacey Middlebrooks to pop-up for the second out, but Shelby Blanton singled up the middle on an 0-2 pitch to keep the rally alive, and Cassidy Bowen drove in TU's second run with another infield single.

Tulsa would push its lead to four runs the following inning courtesy of Cobb's two-run single after Everett delivered a lead-off hit and Barrett walked to get the ball rolling.

That would be more than enough run support for Creger, who struck-out two MSU batters in each of the final two innings to wrap up the victory.

Everett led the way for TU at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a run scored.

Rose (16-17) would suffer the loss after allowing all four Golden Hurricane runs on seven hits in her 20th complete game of the season.

The Bears (22-20, 10-8 MVC) return home to Killian Stadium for the first time in three weeks Saturday (April 30) to kick-off a three-game series against one of the Missouri Valley Confernce's co-leaders, the Drake Bulldogs (30-17, 16-3 MVC). The two clubs will play a doubleheader at noon Saturday, then conclude the series with a single contest at noon Sunday.



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