SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Missouri State softball team (18-9, 1-2) rallied from a 4-0 deficit and had runners on base in every inning, but ultimately fell, 5-4, at the hands of visiting Bradley (11-17, 2-1) in the rubber game at Killian Stadium on Thursday afternoon.
“I liked how we battled today,” said head coach Holly Hesse. “We showed a lot of heart coming back from a four-run deficit. We were resilient and had a lot of chances to win this game.”
Freshman Elena Gambill went 2-for-4 in the game for Missouri State. She drove in a run and scored the tying run in the fourth.
Senior Ashley Brentz reached base all four plate appearances. She drew two walks to increase her team-leading total to 15 on the season. She also drove in a run and scored the first run as MSU rallied back.
Bethany Sullinger drove in two runs on a hit with two outs. She continued the see-saw battle for the league lead by passing teammate Heather Duckworth with 16 two-out RBI on the year.
Brentz led off the game for MSU in the bottom of the first with her first walk of the day, but the Bears were unable to take the lead.
Stacia Boeckstiegel roped a two-out double to right-center in the second. She remained there as the inning concluded.
Bradley took the lead in the third inning. Five Braves’ hits produced four runs putting Missouri State in a hole.
The Bears battled back in the bottom of the inning. Brentz started a two-out rally by reaching on a fielding error by the Bradley pitcher. The inning continued with a bunt single by Kerri Cunningham. Chelsea Jones drew a walk to load the bases for Sullinger. She kept the inning going with a single down the right field line slicing the deficit in half.
The Braves turned an MSU error in the top of the sixth into a run. In the bottom of the inning, Gambill led off with a single to right-center. She advanced into scoring position on another sac bunt by Trickey. Brentz walked, but Bradley was able to avert the Bears’ threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Bears had another chance to tie or win the game. Sullinger was hit by a pitch to start the inning. After a wild pitch moved her into scoring position, Duckworth walked. Two batters later,Rebecca McPherson was hit by a pitch to load the bases. The Bradley relief pitcher clamped down and stranded all three runners to turn the Bears away.
Chelsea Jones started in the circle for Missouri State. She struck out two and did not allow a walk in three innings of work. Jessie Van Es pitched 2.1 innings and allowed just two hits, but was the tough-luck recipient of the loss on an unearned run. Erin Struemph pitched the final 1.2 innings and allowed just an infield single.
The Bears are scheduled to play new league foe Loyola this weekend. Stay tuned to MissouriStateBears.com for schedule updates. Missouri State returns to Killian Stadium next Wednesday (March 26) at 5:00 p.m. versus Tulsa.