Game 1 Box Score
| Game 2 Box Score
| Season Stats
– Head coach Holly Hesse
joined the 750-win club after the Missouri State softball team split a pair of games on day one of the Bulldog Kickoff Classic, here Friday at Nusz Park. The Bears dropped a 2-1 decision to Nebraska-Omaha in the opener but later returned to shut out Mississippi Valley State, 4-0, thanks to senior Holly Kelley
's dominating, 12-strikeout performance.
"I'm very happy to make it to 750 wins in my career," Hesse said. "It's definitely a good number to reach and I'm glad to have achieved that milestone. All in all, I feel good about day one. We had more good at-bats than we had bad at-bats today, even though we didn't see as many runs on the board as we would have liked to have seen. We scored first in both games and, with the exception of one inning, our pitchers performed very well on the mound."
Nebraska-Omaha 2, Missouri State 1
Opening up the 2018 season against the Mavericks, an error in the bottom of the fourth allowed Nebraska-Omaha to squeak by the Bears, 2-1. Missouri State was aggressive in the batter's box out of the gate as seniors Erika Velasquez Zimmer
and Hailee Vigneaux
recorded back-to-back singles in the first inning. With two outs, Darian Frost
drew a walk to load the bases, but the Bears were unable to push a run across.
However, MSU seized the momentum in the top of the fourth after freshman Steffany Dickerson
led off the inning with a walk. Redshirt sophomore Hannah Heinrichs
entered to pinch run for the newcomer and was able to advance to third thanks to a steal and a wild pitch. She then scored on a two-out triple to the right-center field wall by junior Kyana Mason
, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Stepping into the circle for the first time in a Missouri State uniform, Dickerson kept UNO off the board through the first three innings. However, the Mavericks answered in the bottom of the fourth after three consecutive hitters were hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded and one out, UNO's Sarrah Mains reached on a fielder's choice, but an MSU error on the play scored two Mavericks, making it a 2-1 ball game.
Sophomore hurler Erin Griesbauer
relieved Dickerson in the top of the sixth and stopped UNO from scoring again. The Bears, who totaled five hits on the day, were unable to come back from the one-run deficit.
Surrendering just one hit through five innings, Dickerson took the loss for the Bears and registered five strikeouts in her Missouri State debut.
Missouri State 4, Mississippi Valley State 0
In the Bears' second game of the day, Kelley posted a dominant, 4-0 shutout victory over Mississippi Valley State. Kelley fanned a career-high 12 hitters in seven complete innings.
Vigneaux got the bats rolling for the Bears in the bottom of the first after she extended her hitting streak to nine consecutive games on a single to right field. After a stolen base, newcomer Daphne Plummer
singled to center and advanced to second on the throw. Devilette starter Andrea Elmore ended the MSU threat with one of her two strikeouts of the contest.
Kelley struck out the next four batters she faced, and the Bears defense buckled down to get out of a jam in the top of the third after MVSU put runners on the corners. Missouri State made its move in the bottom of the frame after senior second baseman Madison Jones
led off the inning with triple to center field. Velasquez Zimmer followed up with a bunt single to put runners on the corners for the Bears and immediately took off for second on the next pitch.
In an effort to catch Velasquez Zimmer, MVSU catcher Lacy Wilburn threw the ball to the second baseman, and Jones was able to make her way to the dish to score the go-ahead run. After a Vigneaux groundout advanced Velasquez Zimmer to third, Plummer recorded her first career RBI and brought Zimmer home on a scorcher through the left side.
"The freshmen did well at some pretty big positions, and they did a nice job stepping up to the challenge so early in their careers," Hesse said. "We put Daphne in the three-hole right away and every at-bat she had was a quality at-bat. It's nice to see that she can handle that kind of pressure so early on."
An inning later, Kelley drew a one-out walk, and senior Sara Jones
came on to pinch run for the hurler. Following the switch, junior catcher Morgan Greenlee
launched a one-out double to the wall in left field and brought around Jones to give the Bears a 3-0 lead.
The Bears put the final nail in the coffin in the bottom of the fifth after Velasquez Zimmer worked her way around to third base. Picking up her second RBI of the day, Plummer smoked a hard grounder to second to plate the speedy Velasquez Zimmer.
Led by Velasquez Zimmer and Plummer with two hits apiece, the Bears racked up eight hits and three RBIs in the 4-0 victory.
Collectively, the Missouri State pitching staff gave up just five hits on day one of the Bulldog Kickoff Classic and limited the opponents to a .136 batting average.
"The pitchers did a good job of keeping us in the games today and it's always a plus whenever you can throw such a dominating game like Holly did," Hesse noted. "Early on, our pitchers are a little more ahead of the hitters and we kind of expected that. With the exception of one inning, we did what we needed to do on the mound today."
Coming Up Next
Missouri State returns to action tomorrow afternoon for a 12:30 matchup against host Mississippi State. Semifinal games of the Bulldog Kickoff Classic will follow at either 3 p.m. or 5 p.m. for MSU. For the latest information on the Missouri State softball team, visit MissouriStateBears.com
or follow @MSUSoftball