Bradley Squeaks out 3-2 Win in Eight to End Bears' Season
EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- Bradley’s Jacqueline Vitale drove in the game-winning run with a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Braves to a 3-2 win over the Missouri State Bears in the opening round of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Softball Championship at EastSide Centre. BU’s Ashley Birdsong worked a complete game to earn her fourth win over MSU in the last six days, sending the Braves into Thursday evening’s quarterfinal round against UNI.
With one out in the decisive eighth inning, Vitale lined a 1-2 pitch from MSU right-hander Lauren McGinley through the right side to bring in Lindsay Watkins with the winning run. Watkins started the inning with her second hit of the day, a single to right field off Natalie Rose. After Janay Mitchell popped-up a bunt attempt for the first out, Rose issued a walk to Alycia Bachkora, and McGinley beaned Miriam Wegmann on a 2-2 count to load the bases and set the stage for Vitale’s second straight game-winning hit against the Bears. The Braves’ junior catcher provided BU’s only offense Sunday with a sixth-inning homer in a 2-0 victory.
Birdsong (16-10) won for the sixth time in nine days, holding the Bears to two runs on six hits while striking out eight hitters. The senior righty retired 15 straight batters between the third and eighth innings to give Bradley (22-26) a chance for to pick up its sixth consecutive win.
The tough-luck loss for Rose (4-5) came after the freshman right-hander turned in a solid relief effort in which she allowed just two hits while fanning five Braves through her first four innings of work.
Missouri State battled back from an early deficit to force extra innings for the seventh time in 2009. The Braves grabbed the upper hand with a pair of second-inning runs, as Amanda Clack’s one-out squeeze bunt brought home Wegmann with the game’s first run. After MSU starter Lauren Supak retired Julie Sherman on a soft liner to short, BU’s Anne Creighton delivered a two-out double to left-center to drive in Clack to make it a 2-0 game.
Missouri State answered right back, however, getting key two-out hits from Christa Gammon and Jessie Smith to even the score at 2-all. Ashley Arbon sparked the rally with a one-out single to left-center, before Gammon chased her home with an RBI-double that just eluded the reach of Clack in center field. Smith followed with a grounder through the left side to bring in Gammon and pull the Bears even with the Braves.
Jenna Schwark led the Bears at the plate, finishing 2-for-4 with a double. Smith, playing in her 200th consecutive and final game as a Bear, went 1-for-3 with an RBI to finish her senior year with an MSU single-season record .657 slugging percentage. Smith also capped her career as the Bears’ all-time leader in home runs (27), total bases (329), runs scored (123) and slugging (.555).
With the loss, the Bears’ fifth straight, Missouri State closed the 2009 season with a 19-25 mark.