Bentonville, Ark. - The Missouri Southern softball team won their final two games of the Seven State Classic this afternoon defeating Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) 6-2 and Southern Nazarene (Okla.) 14-13. With the pair of victories, the Lions improve to 8-2 on the year and are off to their best start since 2001 when they began 16-0.
Being the home team for the for time all weekend, starting pitcher Haley Pypes would surrender a lone run in the top of the first before the Lions would get on the board in the bottom of the inning and tag on three early runs. With centerfielder Alana Hester and second baseman Brooke Swadley both grounding out to the shortstop, Shelby Romines would come up with two outs and drill her fourth home run of the year over the centerfield wall tying the game at one. First baseman Dawn Grass would follow Romines lead smacking her 17th career home run over the centerfield wall to give the Lions a 2-1 lead. That home run places Grass in sole possession of second place all-time in career home runs in Missouri Southern softball history.
The Lions would add two more in the bottom of the fourth inning to make the game 5-1 as third baseman Brooklyn Farrell would leadoff the inning with a triple to right field and would proceed to score on a passed ball. With leftfielder Brooke Smith going down on strikes, centerfielder Alana Hester would reach base on a double. Advancing to third on a flyout by Swadley, Romines would plate Hester with a RBI single to left field. The Lions would add one more in the bottom of the fifth before the Eagles would add one in the top of the seventh to make the final 6-2.
The Lions would collect ten hits, including six for extra-bases in their first game as Romines went 3-3 with the home run. Pypes would get credit with the win, her fourth of the year, as she pitched a complete game holding the Eagles to five hits, two runs while striking out seven.
Playing Southern Nazarene shortly thereafter, the Lions would be in for a wild game as both teams would bring the bats early and often. The Lions would return to the visiting side in game two picking up four early runs on five hits in the top of the first. The Crimson Storm would answer right back scoring an early run on a sacrifice fly before drilling a three-run home run off of starter Haley Kinnison to notch the game at four at the end of one.
The Lions would add five more runs in the top of the second batting around the order to take a 9-4 lead. The Lions would plate runs off a walk, sacrifice fly, single and a two-run RBI double to left center by Michala Wood. The Lions would continue to add to their lead in the top of the third adding three more runs, including Romines' second home run of the day, fifth of the year, to take a commanding 12-4 lead.
The Crimson Storm would not go down without a fight answering with five runs in the bottom of the third chasing Kinnison from the game. Hannah Cooke would come on in relief and strand the bases loaded. The Lions would keep a three-run lead with each team adding a run in the fourth, but Southern Nazarene would cut the lead to one in the bottom of the fifth as the Crimson Storm would drill a two-run home run to left field to make the game 13-12.
With neither side touching the scoreboard in the sixth, the Lions would add a very imporant insurance run in top of the seventh as Hester would get her third hit of the afternoon singling to right field before stealing both second and third. Swadley would plate Hester with a single before being thrown out herself trying to extend the play to a double. Southern Nazarene would leadoff the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run, their fourth of the game, to close the gap to one (14-13), but that would be as close as they get as Sarah Williams would retire the final three batters to record her first career save.
Six Lions would have two or more hits as the team combined for 15 in the game, including four for extra bases. The Lions' 14 runs are the most ever for a Bill Gray coached Southern team and it is the first time Missouri Southern has scored that many runs since April 3, 2000 when the Lions defeated Bartlesville Wesleyan 15-0.
Southern returns to action next Friday and Saturday when they play in the Central Oklahoma Tournament in Edmond, Okla. The Lions play Oklahoma Christian at 10 am and Cameron at 12:15 pm on Friday before wrapping up the weekend on Saturday playing West Texas A&M at 10 am and Southwest Minnesota State at 12:15 pm.