The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

March 18, 2014

Softball Lions earn first MIAA wins

When the ball left her bat, Dawn Grass was confident she flied out.

But the pitch from Lincoln’s Jessica Cook continued to carry over the right-center field fence. The two-run shot was one of the many offensive highlights for Missouri Southern during an MIAA doubleheader sweep of the Blue Tigers on Tuesday at Lea Kungle Field. The Lions combined for 23 hits during wins of 8-1 and 6-1.

“I didn’t think it was out at all,” Grass said. “I thought I had just popped it up.”

The home run not only gave Missouri Southern a 3-0 lead in the third inning of the opener, but it also marked Grass’ 26th career home run. The total ties MSSU’s school record set by Angie Turner from 2006-10.

Grass was 3-for-4 with three RBI in the opener, helping the Lions total 14 hits against Lincoln pitchers Cook and Alyssa Laudwig. Grass improved her season average to .412 with four home runs and 13 RBI.

“I’ve been seeing the ball real well, which is great,” she said. “Hopefully it will keep going like that.”

The wins were the Lions’ (8-14, 2-4 MIAA) first of the conference season after being swept by Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State this past weekend. Lincoln (2-17, 0-8) remains winless in the MIAA.

“You have to win games you are suppose to win,” Missouri Southern coach Bill Gray said. “Our records may have been somewhat comparable, but I felt like we are the better team. We hit the ball pretty well. Our pitching is better. We need to get healthy in the MIAA.”

Missouri Southern was successful on the mound and at the plate against Lincoln.

Sophomore Sarah Williams (3-5) allowed three hits during the complete-game victory, while sophomore Haley Kinnison (5-6) fanned seven over seven innings.

“Sarah threw well, and Haley struck out seven,” Gray said. “She scattered her six hits. Those two are still growing up. We’re taking baby steps. They’re feeling better about it.”

Eight Missouri Southern players had at least two hits over the two games.

Michala Wood was 4-for-7 with a double, a triple and a pair of RBI. Alexah Replogle was 3-for-7 with a double and three runs.

Chloe Brown was 2-for-6 over the two games, including a solo home run in the sixth inning of the first game. Brooke Swadley’s 3-for-6 performance improved her batting average by .38 points, and Shelby Romines picked up one hit in each game.

“Dawn Grass and Chloe Brown hit the ball well,” Gray said. “Replogle is coming alive. Some of our numbers don’t look great batting average wise, but Brooklyn Farrell is coming alive. Shelby Romines is getting there. Brooke Swadley hit the ball hard today. Everybody hit the ball hard today. We did some good things. We got a squeeze in. We ran the bases pretty well.”

The Lions will travel to Claremore, Okla., for a nonconference doubleheader against Rogers State (4-20) at 4 p.m. today. Missouri Southern will follow that with six games at the Missouri Western Tournament before resuming conference play at Northwest Missouri State on March 29.

“We just have to keep playing like we did today,” Grass said. “We have to work as a team and do all the little things right. If we do that, good things will happen.”

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