Monday, March 19, 2012
Sports News

Bears top Redbirds 4-2 in series finale

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[March 19, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Illinois State softball team dropped its first Missouri Valley Conference game of the season, as Missouri State prevented a Redbird sweep by taking the series finale 4-2 at Killian Stadium in Springfield, Mo., on Saturday afternoon.

HardwareISU (15-13, 2-1 MVC) took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a two-run double by sophomore Laura Canopy. Juniors Elizabeth Kay and Lauren Kellar both reached on back-to-back two-out singles prior to Canopy's double to deep left.

The Bears (10-8, 1-2 MVC) countered with a pair of runs in their half of the first, scoring both on Chelsea Jones' two-run single to shallow left. Kirstin Cutter led off the inning with a single to right, and Rebecca McPherson followed with a hit to left, before both moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Stevie Pierce. Jones drove them both home just two batters later.

After a scoreless second inning, Missouri State was able to manufacture a run in the bottom of the third to take its first lead of the series at 3-2. A pair of errors to start the frame allowed Cutter and McPherson to reach, and Cutter later scored on a delayed double steal. ISU starter Jordan Birch was able to pitch around a pair of two-out walks and limit the damage.

MSU doubled its lead in the fourth on an RBI single by McPherson that plated Kerri Cunningham, who led off the frame with a pinch-hit single. Missouri State starter Natalie Rose allowed just one hit over the next three innings, and the Redbirds would not threaten again until the seventh.

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Trailing 4-2 heading into their half of the seventh, the Redbirds got a pair of leadoff base runners in freshman Stephanie Gallant and fellow freshman Lindsey Greene. Gallant coaxed a leadoff walk, and Greene drove a single through the left side. Rose countered by getting a groundout and a strikeout for the first two outs of the inning. ISU loaded the bases when junior Jhavon Hamilton was intentionally walked, but Rose was able to retire Kellar on strikes to seal the win.

Birch fell to 8-8 on the season, allowing four runs, three earned, on five hits. The Monroe, Wash., native notched three strikeouts, while issuing three free passes. Freshman Sophia Perez tossed a scoreless inning in relief to complete the pitching line for Illinois State.

The Redbirds will be at home next weekend, for the first time this season, when they continue MVC play by hosting Wichita State for a three-game set beginning Saturday at noon.

[Text from file received from Illinois State]


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