By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Kathryn Goins, broken nose and all, played hero for the Missouri Southern Lions on Tuesday night.
Goins’ three-run double in the eighth inning helped the Lions prevail 11-8 and salvage a split with the Pittsburg State Gorillas in a cold and lengthy MIAA and Sonic Trophy Series doubleheader at the PSU Softball Complex.
PSU won the opener 5-1.
With the split, the Sonic Series point will be determined by final conference standings. The Gorillas (22-20, 10-12 MIAA) own a one-game lead over the Lions (22-22, 9-13) with six conference games remaining.
Goins’ bases-clearing double to the left-center field gap capped a wild end to the second game.
The Lions looked to be in danger of being swept after Kreslee Ketcham — a Neosho High graduate — drilled a two-run homer to right to put Pitt State up 4-1 after five innings.
But Southern, which had scored just two runs on the day to that point, erupted for seven runs in the sixth — the dagger being Alana Hester’s three-run double — to take an 8-4 lead.
Pitt State, however, answered. Kayla Sears made it 8-5 with a home run in the sixth before hitting a two-run single to cap the Gorillas’ three-run rally in the seventh that tied the game at eight.
Southern then loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth to set the table for Goins, who was seeing her first live pitching since breaking her nose on April 6 at Emporia State.
Goins worked a full count and fouled off five pitches before sending a rocket into left-center for what became the decisive runs.
“I was just trying to foul it off and battle until I got the pitch I wanted,” said the sophomore from Van Buren, Ark. “She (Pitt State pitcher Kyndel Shelburn) missed and left it over the middle of the plate and I took advantage of it.”
Southern pitcher Sarah Williams, who entered the game in the sixth, retired Pitt State’s 2-3-4 batters in order to nail down the win.
It was a much-needed win for the Lions, who are hanging on to hopes of rallying for the final spot in the MIAA tournament. The top eight teams earn a spot in the Kansas City bracket.
“That’s huge. We have to get every win we can get, any way we can get it.” MSSU coach Bill Gray said. “These kids don’t stop. There are a lot of good things about these kids, but that’s the best thing about them.
“We jumped out to that lead and finally go to feeling good about ourselves and then they come back like that in the seventh … we could have lain down and died. But we didn’t.”
Shelby Romines and Brooklyn Farrell each had four hits in the nightcap to key MSSU’s 15-hit attack.
Shelburn was stellar for Pitt State in the opener, allowing just one Missouri Southern hit while striking out six.
The Gorillas scored two in the third on Samantha Grove’s two-run single and two in the fourth to turn a 1-1 tie into a 5-1 lead.
Missouri Southern hosts Lincoln on Friday for an MIAA doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. Pitt State then hosts Lincoln on Saturday for two games beginning at noon.