Rose, Schwark Power Bears to Opening-Round Win at MVC Championship
DES MOINES, Iowa -- .Behind the combination of Natalie Rose and Jenna Schwark, the Missouri State Bears claimed a 3-0 victory over Evansville in the opening round of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Softball Championship Thursday afternoon at Buel Field. With the win, the fifth-seeded Bears advance to a 4 p.m. quarterfinal Thursday against fourth-seeded UNI.
Rose (7-11) posted her second straight shutout at Buel Field. The sophomore right-hander, who beat Drake with a three-hitter on April 18 in her only previous career start in Des Moines, was in control for the Bears in the circle throughout Thursday's contest, blanking the Purple Aces on four hits while striking out nine batters to match a season high. Evansville never mounted a serious offensive threat, as just two Aces reached second base on the afternoon.
At the plate, Schwark went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and scored two of MSU's three runs. The All-MVC first-teamer set the tone for the Bears early, driving in the first run of the contest in the first, before blasting her sixth homer of the season two innings later to complete the scoring.
Tyler Porter sparked MSU's two-run rally in the bottom of the first by drawing a one-out walk from UE starter Kendall Kautz. Schwark followed with a double that plugged the gap in right-center to chase home Porter with MSU's first run of the game. Caitlin Chapin coaxed another walk from Kautz ahead of Ashley Knehans' RBI single to left that made it a 2-0 contest.
Schwark came up big again in the third, belting the first pitch she saw from Kautz over the leftfield wall for a lead-off homer and a 3-0 MSU lead.
Rose took over from that point, setting down eight straight batters from the fourth through the sixth innings and retiring 12 of the last 14 hitters of the game to slam the door on her third career shutout.
Knehans also posted a 2-for-3 effort at the plate for the Bears, while Jen Stahlhut accounted for two of the Purple Aces four hits.
Kautz (13-15) took the loss for UE after surrendering all three MSU runs on five hits over 3.0 innings of work.
The Bears will be looking to advance to the semifinal round at the MVC Championship for the second time in three years with this afternoon's match-up against UNI, which took two out of three games from MSU this past weekend in Cedar Falls.