Missouri State Softball Knocks Off #16 Auburn

by Missouri State Athletics

Missouri State captured its first softball win over a ranked team since 2008 and improved to 3-1 on the young season Saturday. The Bears knocked off No. 16-ranked Auburn, 4-3, Saturday afternoon before dispatching Florida A&M, 7-4, here Saturday evening.

“This is a big-time win early in the season for our team,” said MSU head coach Holly Hesse after the Auburn game. “Our pitching was phenomenal. Against Auburn, Erin Griesbauer had a quality start and was outstanding, and then Steffany Dickerson came in and did a tremendous job in relief. This team really runs to the roar – they’re not afraid of anything.”

The Bears (3-1) wrap up the five-game event on Sunday morning when they take on Louisiana Tech at 10 a.m.

Missouri State 4, Auburn 3

The Bears used a four-run second inning to turn back No. 16 Auburn, 4-3, in the first game of the day.

The Tigers (2-1) took an early lead on a bases-loaded walk to Justus Perry with two outs in the first inning, but Bears’ starter Erin Griesbauer struck out Carmyn Greenwood to end the inning.

Missouri State responded in a major way, plating four runs in the top of the second to put the SEC stalwart on notice. The Bears loaded the bases on a single by Madison Hunsaker, a walk to Hannah Heinrichs and a single by Steffany Dickerson. Rachel Weber then tied the game with a base hit to right field, and then Morgan Greenlee followed suit with a base knock to put the Bears on top, 2-1.

On Greenlee’s hit, the throw to the plate got away, and Dickerson came around to score on the play, moving all three MSU runners up 60 feet. Kyana Mason capped the rally with a sac fly to center that scored Weber and made it a 4-1 contest.

Auburn put on a power display in the bottom of the second to climb back in it. Bree Fornis hit a solo shot on the first pitch she saw to start the inning. Then with two outs, Casey McCrackin smacked one over the center field fence on an 0-1 pitch – her second of the year – to make it a one-run game.

After a leadoff single by Taylon Snow in the bottom of the fifth for the Tigers, Dickerson came on in relief of Griesbauer and quickly struck out the first two batters she faced. She then induced a hard grounder to second to end the inning.

MSU looked to add to its narrow lead in the sixth when Heinrichs started the frame with an infield hit and then stole second. Dickerson walked to put two runners on with no outs, but AU starter Ashlee Swindle took just 13 pitches to strike out the side and snuff out the Bears’ rally.

Auburn threatened again in the bottom of the sixth when the Tigers put the first two hitters on with a walk to Kendall Veach and a hit to right by Perry. But a failed sacrifice attempt by Greenwood gave MSU a needed break and first out. Dickerson was able to maneuver around the next two hitters, despite a pair of Auburn stolen bases, to extend the MSU lead into the seventh.

Both teams went down in order in a quiet seventh inning to lift Missouri State to its first win over a ranked team since defeating No. 11 Oklahoma, 3-2, in 2008.

The Bears allowed just two hits after the second inning and out-hit the Tigers by a 7-6 margin for the game.

Weber and Morgan Greenlee were both 2-for-3 for Missouri State to lead the offense, while Griesbauer (1-1) and Dickerson combined to strike out six hitters and walked just three. Dickerson collected her first career save in 3.0 innings of work, surrendering just one hit.

Missouri State 7, Florida A&M 4

A three-run rally in the bottom of the fifth broke up a 4-4 tie and helped push the Bears to a 7-4 win over Florida A&M in Saturday’s late game.

The Bears capitalized on sacrifice flies by Dickerson and Greenlee as well as a clutch RBI double from Weber in the decisive late-game rally to regain the lead and extend MSU’s winning streak to three straight.

Earlier, Missouri State plated three runs in the bottom of the first to set a blistering pace out of the gates. Kyana Mason’s first homer of the year started MSU’s scoring, followed by a triple from Daphne Plummer. Plummer later stole home to put the Bears up 2-0, and Dickerson brought home Kelly Metter moments later on a sacrifice fly.

The Rattlers (0-3) returned fire with a pair of unearned runs in the second to make it a 3-2 game. But MSU’s Plummer continued to swing a hot bat in the bottom of the inning, driving home Mason to give the Bears a 4-2 cushion.

That score held until the fifth when FAMU tied the game on a two-out RBI triple to center by Kimi Watkins. She would later score as the result of a Bears’ error, and the game moved into the bottom of the fifth tied, 4-4, before the MSU bats came alive in the bottom of the inning.

Dickerson (2-0) earned the win after allowing just two hits in 2.1 innings of relief. She also drove home a pair of runs. The Bears also had exceptional offensive efforts from Mason, who was 3-for-3, while Plummer and Madison Hunsaker finished 2-for-4.

MSU out-hit FAMU, 9-8, and stranded six runners, while Bears’ pitchers surrendered just one earned run and walked only two.

Florida A&M got two hits apiece from Tyra Bowers, Taylor Rosier and Hera Varmah.

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