Softball sweeps Southwest Baptist to close out regular season

Joplin, Mo. - Behind a career-high 13 strikeouts from Haley Pypes and a walk-off two-run double from Chloe Brown, the Missouri Southern Lions softball team closed out the regular season Monday sweeping Southwest Baptist defeating the Bearcats 3-2 in game one and  9-8 in game two.

Southern (26-24, 13-15 MIAA) would combine to score 12 runs on 18 hits between the two games led by Alana Hester, who combined to go 4-for-6 on the day scoring four runs and hitting her team-leading fourth triple of the year. Shelby Romines would also have a great day at the plate going 3-for-4 with a double while driving in six runs.

Southwest Baptist (4-48, 0-28) would jump out to an early 1-0 lead in game one thanks to a leadoff single who would come around to score. The Lions' would respond in the bottom of the second as Michala Wood would drive home Dawn Grass to tie up the game at one apiece. The Lions would add to their lead in the third when Hester would lead off with a bunt single. She would advance to third on a sacrifice bunt from Brooke Swadley and come home to score on a bunt single from Romines. The Bearcats would respond in the top of the fourth tying the game at two before the Lions would score the game-winning run in the fifth as Swadley would get on-base thanks to a fielder's choice. With Swadley stealing second, Romines would drive a single to centerfield driving home Swadley for the go-ahead score.

Going the distance to pick up her eighth win of the year, Pypes would pitch her fifth complete game of the year allowing eight hits and only two runs while striking out a career-high 13 batters. Pypes becomes the fourth Lion ever to reach that mark in a single game, the second-highest total strikeouts by a Missouri Southern pitcher in a single game.

Game two would be a back-and-forth affair as the Bearcats would jump out to a 4-1 lead after scoring a pair in the top of the fifth, but the Lions would quickly respond in the bottom of the fifth scoring four runs to re-gain the advantage. After Hester would lead off with a bunt single and Swadley would draw a walk, Romines would follow with a double to left center driving home the pair to cut the lead to 4-3. Grass would keep the momentum going driving a double to centerfield driving home Romines. With Rachel Harding pinch-running for Grass, Brooklyn Farrell would single Harding home.

The Bearcats would not go away though as they would score three runs in the top of the sixth to re-take a 7-5 lead scoring all three unearned runs on a Southern error. The Lions would be resilient though answering with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth as Romines would hit a two-run RBI single to left field tying the game at 7-7 going into the seventh inning.

With Southwest Baptist adding a run in the top of the frame thanks to a lead-off walk coming home to score on a double to left center, the Lions would answer back one final time in the bottom of the seventh. Farrell would lead-off with a hit-by-pitch advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt from Wood. Kathryn Goins would follow reaching base on a error by the Bearcats' second baseman as Farrell would advance to third. With Brown pinch-hitting for the starting leftfielder Brooke Smith, Brown would deliever her second walk-off hit in as many days driving a double to centerfield scoring Farrell and Goins and giving the Lions the season-ending win.

Coming on in relief of starting pitcher Haley Kinnison, who would pitch the first 4.2 innings, freshman Sarah Williams would pick up her team-high ninth win of the year pitching the final 2.1 innings allowing only three hits, four runs, only one earned and recording a strikeout.

Despite the sweep, the Lions season comes to end as they will finish the year just shy of reaching the top eight in the MIAA needed to qualify for the MIAA Tournament.