Softball drops series finale with Drake, 6-4
The Missouri State softball team dropped a tough-luck, 6-4 decision to Drake in nine innings Sunday afternoon at the Missouri State Softball Field, giving the Bulldogs just their second Missouri Valley Conference series win in 2007. Jenna Wilkin tripled to set up DU’s decisive two-run, ninth-inning rally, and Cassie Heller posted 5 1/3 scoreless innings of relief to propel the Bulldogs to victory.
With one out in the top of the ninth, Wilkin drove a Melissa Porche pitch to deep left field for a momentum-turning triple. Emily Hajduk’s sacrifice fly drove in Wilkin to break a 4-4 tie and the Bulldogs (15-34, 5-16 MVC) added an insurance run via back-to-back doubles from Susan Slycord and Jaci Faidley to put the finishing touches on their second consecutive win over the Bears.
Heller (8-19) shut down the Bears in the bottom of the frame to cap a solid relief effort in which the senior lefthander gave up just three singles to pick up the victory.
Missouri State jumped on top courtesy of the long ball to take an early 4-0 lead. Melissa Porche drove a Mandy Osborn offering over the fence in straight-way center field with two out in the third to give the Bears a 2-0 lead. Jessie Smith followed Porche’s lead the very next inning, belting another two-out, two-run home run to chase Osborn and give MSU a four-run advantage. The homer was the seventh of the season for Smith, moving the sophomore shortstop into a four-way tie for the fourth-best single-season home run total in MSU history. It was also her 15th career long ball, good for fifth all-time at Missouri State.
Porche was in command on the mound through the first four innings, allowing just two hits and striking out five while holding the Bulldogs scoreless. But DU got on the board when Kristin Birocci led off the fifth with a solo shot to left, then evened the score with a three-run sixth inning, highlighted by Heller’s two-out bleeder to center that brought home Faidley with the tying run.
Porche (16-16) finished with nine strikeouts, but surrendered 13 hits over the final five innings and was tagged for all six Drake runs.
Faidley paced the Bulldog offensive attack, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs. Porche and Smith each had two hits to lead the Missouri State offense.
Next up, Missouri State (21-25, 10-11 MVC) will travel to Normal, Ill. for a three-game series with Illinois State to wrap up the regular season. The Bears and Redbirds will play a noon doubleheader on Saturday, May 5, before concluding the conference regular season with a noon contest on Sunday, May 6.