Softball drops heartbreaker at #22 Illinois State



After allowing 21 runs in a doubleheader yesterday, the Missouri State softball team found itself in a pitcher’s duel with 22nd-ranked Illinois State Sunday in Normal, Ill. Illinois State’s Shannon Nicholson and MSU’s Melissa Porche were tremendous on the mound, as the teams played 11 scoreless innings before the Redbirds’ Casey Gorrell hit a one-out bases loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 12th to give the Redbirds a 1-0 victory in both teams’ regular season finale. With the three-game sweep, Illinois State concludes the regular season at 42-14-1 overall and 18-7-1 in the MVC, while the Bears finish 21-28 and 10-14.

Porche was the more dominant of the two pitchers, as she allowed only four hits through the first 11 innings. But in the decisive 12th inning, she allowed a leadoff walk to Illinois State’s Amber Smith and then back-to-back one-out singles to Jessie Buker and Stacy Birk. Gorrell then sent a ball to center field deep enough to score Smith with the winning run.

Missouri State had multiple base runners in five of the first eight innings and at least one base runner in all but three innings. In the second inning, Jana Shewmaker’s single put runners on first and second with one out, but the next two MSU batters struck out to end the inning. The Bears again had runners at first and second with one out in the seventh following a Katie Martin infield single, but a fielder’s choice and a lineout ended the threat.

The Bears had four hits in extra innings, but could not capitalize. In the eighth, Brooke Kempker and Shewmaker both singled, but a groundout ended the frame. Junior Michelle Armentrout recorded the game’s only extra-base hit, a double with two outs in the 12th, but was stranded at second following a groundout.

The Bears outhit Illinois State, 10-6, in the game. Shewmaker and sophomore Elysha Swider both turned in 3-for-5 performances at the plate to account for six of the Bears’ 10 hits. Armentrout also notched a multi-hit game for MSU, adding a single in the first inning. The Bears left a season-high 14 runners on base in the contest.

Porche (16-18) was the tough-luck loser, despite an outstanding performance on the rubber. The junior allowed six hits in 11.2 innings, surrendering a lone walk while striking out seven. In 15 of her 18 losses this season, MSU has been shut out or scored only one run. Nicholson (20-5) turned in a 12-inning complete game effort for the Redbirds, allowing 10 hits and a walk while striking out six.

The Bears will enter next week’s MVC Tournament as the sixth seed and will play seventh-seed Bradley in a 1:30 p.m. contest Thursday, May 10, at the Redbird Softball Complex in Normal, Ill. This year’s tournament has changed from the previous six-team, double elimination format to a new eight-team single-elimination version.



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