April 26, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State softball team (25-24, 8-14) dropped both ends of a doubleheader against the visiting Illinois State Redbirds (23-24, 15-5) on Saturday afternoon at Killian Stadium. MSU couldn't hold a game one lead in a 6-2 defeat and fell in game two, 7-3.
Sophomore Bethany Sullinger climbed higher into the MSU record books with four runs batted in on the day. She drove in two runs in each game and now has 40 RBI on the campaign, the fourth-most in a single season in school history. She had three hits, including her team-leading sixth home run. She also legged out her fourth triple of the year, tying teammate Heather Duckworth for the most in the MVC.
All four on MSU's seniors contributed at least two hits on the Bears' Senior Day. Ashley Brentz and Kerri Cunningham hit safely in both games with three hits apiece on the day. Stacia Boeckstiegel recorded a hit in each game and Duckworth had a pair of hits in game two.
Freshman pitcher Erin Struemph tossed nine innings in the circle on the day. She struck out 10 Redbirds, five in each game. In game two, she scattered two hits in four innings of relief to keep the Bears close.
Game 1 - Missouri State 2, Illinois State 6
The Bears jumped on the board in the first inning. Brentz lead off the game with a bloop double into left field. She moved to third as Cunningham reached on an infield bunt single. With two away in the inning, Sullinger came through again with a single to left, driving home her MVC-best 24th two-out run.
After cruising through the lineup to the tune of one base runner, Struemph ran into trouble in the third inning. The Redbirds scored three runs in three hits, but Struemph limited the damage, stranding the bases loaded.
MSU looked to response in the bottom of the inning. Cunningham scorched a double off the third baseman with two outs, but another liner by Chelsea Jones was snagged to end the inning.
Illinois State manufactured a run in the fourth, but again Struemph held strong by leaving three Redbirds on base to end the frame.
Sullinger got the run back with a leadoff home run to left. ISU answered right back with a run in the fifth.
Brentz picked up her second hit of the game with a two-out single up the middle in the bottom of the fifth.
The Bears continued to put pressure on Illinois State in the seventh. Erin Duewel torched a single off the third baseman's glove to start the inning. Two batters later, Boeckstiegel singled to left field. The Redbirds clamped down after that to claim the game one win.
Game 2 - Missouri State 3, Illinois State 7
The Redbirds turned an uncharacteristic leadoff walk by Chelsea Jones into a run without the benefit of a hit in the top of the first. Jones tried to help her own cause with an infield single up the middle with two outs, but that way the extent of the MSU offense in the inning.
ISU manufactured a run in the second after a leadoff double. A sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly bumped the Redbirds' lead to 2-0.
Boeckstiegel singled up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the second. For the second-straight inning, MSU was held to just the two-out hit.
In the third inning, controversy arose. Back-to-back hits to begin the inning plated the first run of the inning for ISU. A walk and fielding error loaded the bases with no outs. Jones struck out a batter and induced a sacrifice fly to get the second out of the frame. Illinois State's Brittny Drish lifted a high fly ball to right that drifted well over the foul pole and was called fair for a three-run home run to break open the game.
The Bears didn't stop fighting despite the seven run deficit. Rebecca McPherson singled to left to open the bottom of the third. After Brentz appeared to walk, she was called back on a check swing strike to run the count full. She fouled off a pair off pitches before lining a single into right. McPherson stole third and Cunningham reached on an infield single to load the bases. Chelsea Jones flew deep to left field for a sacrifice fly. Sullinger then drilled a triple into the left field corner past a diving ISU fielder to drive in two runs. The Bears rally would end there as a pair of infield outs ended the frame.
Elena Gambill drew a one-out walk in the fourth. Cunningham walked to begin the fifth, but MSU wasn't able to convert either into a run.
In the sixth inning, Duckworth led off with a single to left. Two batters later, Braxton Coil reached on a Redbird error. With two away, McPherson drew a walk to load the bases. Missouri State's rally was stifled with an inning-ending strikeout.
Chelsea Jones reached on the second ISU error with one out in the seventh. Duckworth recorded her second hit of the game, an infield single. But a fly out to shallow right ended the game.
Missouri State will play its final game of the 2014 season at Killian Stadium on Sunday, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The Bears then travel to Evansville to conclude the regular season on May 3 and 4.