The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 13, 2012

Missouri Southern resumes chase for softball playoff berth

By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor

— Throwing approximately 200 pitches in Missouri Southern’s 3-2, 11-inning victory over Missouri S&T on Wednesday afternoon wasn’t any problem for the Lions’ Haley Pypes.

“I’ve grown up always throwing a lot,” Pypes said with a laugh. “Plus my adrenaline was pumping. I was so excited about the game.”

The international tiebreaker rule, which puts a runner on second base to start the inning, was used during the four extra innings. That provided more motivation for Pypes.

“It pumps me up more definitely,” she said. “I love the adrenaline, knowing there is a runner there who can’t score. And I think that pressure really helped our defense.”

Brooke Hurley singled home the winning run in the 11th inning, and the Lions won the nightcap 5-4 on Alysha Poteat’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh.

“Alysha had a rough night defensively (two errors) in Game 2,” Lions coach Bill Gray said. “I told her after her previous at-bat ‘hey, we need you defensively for two innings. You’ll get another shot.’ She did, and she made good of it.”

The Lions halted a four-game losing streak and earned their first doubleheader sweep since March 26 against Truman State.

“Those are good wins. We needed those,” Gray said. “We have to keep plugging.”

The Lions (15-28) are sixth in the MIAA standings with a 4-8 record, but they are only one game ahead of three teams. Central Missouri is 4-10 entering today’s home games against Pittsburg State. Northwest Missouri State is 4-11 after splitting two games Friday at Washburn, and Lincoln is 3-9 before road games this weekend against Missouri Western and Emporia State.

The top eight teams qualify for the conference postseason tournament on April 26-28 in Kansas City.

Missouri Southern plays its final four conference twinbills on the road, starting today against Southwest Baptist in Bolivar. First pitch is at noon, one hour earlier than originally scheduled.

In another schedule change, the Lions play at Central Missouri at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Those games were originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon but changed because of an unfavorable forecast.

Center fielder and leadoff hitter Breanna Volkmann leads the Lions with a .362 batting average, and catcher Lydia Niemegeers and first baseman Shelby Romines are hitting .314 and .311, respectively. Right fielder Brooke Hurley ranks first with five home runs and 28 runs batted in.

Pypes paces the pitching staff with a 9-7 record and 2.98 earned run average. She has struck out 88 batters — including a season-high 11 against Missouri S&T — and walked 78 in 98 2⁄3 innings.