A three-run fourth inning and solid pitching propelled the Missouri State Bears (26-23) into the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals with a 3-0 opening-round win over Bradley here Thursday afternoon.
The fifth-seeded Bears got a complete-game shutout from Natalie Rose who improved to 19-19 on the season.She struck out seven, allowed four hits and walked a pair of Braves en route to her third shutout.
Bradley, the No. 8 seed, ended its campaign at 13-41 and got two of its hits from junior catcher Jackie Roth.
Braves’ starter Madeline Lynch-Crumrine struck out five Bears in the first three innings, but MSU’s Jenna Schwark slapped a one-out hit to the right side ahead of a double by Ashley Knehans to spark the game-winning rally. Stevie Pierce then walked to load the bases for Raeven Replogle. The junior from Webb City, Mo., delivered with an RBI single to left to give MSU the early 1-0 advantage.
Heather Duckworth then followed with a single to left to make it 2-0. Pierce tried to score on the play and appeared to be tagged out at the plate, but obstruction was called on Bradley third baseman Denise Jilka as Pierce rounded third, allowing the run and making it 3-0 MSU.
Reliever Lindsay Hufeld got Bradley out of the jam, but the Bears’ 3-0 lead held up, sending MSU into a 4 p.m. quarterfinal against No. 4 seed Northern Iowa.
Six different MSU players accounted for the team’s half dozen hits, while Kenhans’ clutch double was the game’s only extra-base knock. It was Rose’s third shutout in her last four starts, helping Holly Hesse’s squad improve to 64-40 all-time in MVC Tournament action.