The Bears made it out of the initial two rounds unscathed, defeating Evansville and Southern Illinois on Thursday to advance to the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Softball Tournament semifinal round. 

Evansville cut what was originally a six point lead to a tie game with a two run homer in the bottom of the sixth.  The Bears responded by scoring two runs in the top of the seventh to win the game, 8-6.  Junior shortstop Jessie Smith scored three runs, including one of the final two runs in the seventh, on Ashley Knehans’s two-out double.  Smith batted 4-4 in the contest. 

Senior Melissa Porche pitched solidly all seven innings against Evansville, and continued her stellar play by only allowing two hits against Southern Illinois, again pitching all seven innings.  Smith also continued to excel, getting two hits in the contest, and batting in three RBI.  Smith and Porche’s performances were again keys to victory as they defeated So. Illinois handily, 5-0. 

The seventh-seeded Bears take on second-seeded llinious State today (Friday) at 2:30 p.m., at Charlotte West Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.