Missouri State Rides Arm of Rose to Victory in MVC Quarterfinals
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri State (27-23) manufactured a pair of runs in the top of the sixth and rode the arm of junior hurler Natalie Rose to a 2-0 victory over Northern Iowa here Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference.
It was Rose's second shutout effort of the day and her fourth over her last five starts as she improved to 20-19 on the season. She fanned eight Panthers, allowed just three hits and walked one.
Northern Iowa (32-25) starter Jamie Fisher did not allow a hit until the sixth when the Bears put together the game-winning rally.
The decisive inning started with a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Ashley Brentz who stepped in for all-conference shortstop Kirstin Cutter. Cutter re-entered moments later as a runner, and Tyler Porter then collected the Bears' first hit with a well-placed bunt toward third. Lauren Eisenreich sacrificed the pair up 60 feet before Ashley Knehans smacked a sac fly to left to put the Bears on top 1-0.
On Knehans' sacrifice, Porter advanced to third base, which soon prove critical. The next hitter Stevie Pierce walked, and when she took off for second base moments later, Porter stole home to make it a 2-0 game.
UNI led off the bottom of the sixth with a double by Mackenzie Daigh and a walk to Hannah Borschel. However, Rose was up to the task and retired the next three batters with a pair of fly balls and a strikeout.
The Bears got a hit by Christa Gammon and put a pair of runners on base in the top of the seventh, but couldn't add to their lead. Meanwhile, Rose set UNI down in order in the bottom of the seventh to become the first MSU pitcher since Nora Cagwin (1999) to win 20 games.
The No. 5 Bears advance to a Noon semifinal Friday against top-seeded Illinois State (36-15) at Killian Softball Stadium. The other semifinal will take place at 2:30 p.m. Friday and feature second-seeded Drake against the winner of Thursday's late game between No. 3 Southern Illinois and No. 6 Creighton.
The MVC championship game will be at Noon on Saturday with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line. For more information, please go to the MVC Tournament Central link at www.MissouriStateBears.com.