The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

April 23, 2014

Southern softball salvages a split

The Missouri Southern Lions softball team was more than familiar with Rogers State pitcher Yolanda Rios.

A senior right-hander, Rios struck out 13 Missouri Southern batters over six innings during a 9-1 victory at Rogers State on March 19.

In their second meeting against Rios, the Lions witnessed more of the same. Rios pitched seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts and five hits, lifting the Hillcats to a 6-0 victory on Tuesday at Lea Kungle Field.

The Lions rebounded for a 3-0 win in the nightcap against Rogers State pitcher Brooklyne Harbert.

“Thank God we didn’t play against (Rios) twice a year for four years,” Missouri Southern coach Bill Gray said. “She’s a good pitcher. She works well side to side. She gets things done.”

Rogers State (14-32) gave Rios an early cushion with five runs over the first three innings. Meanwhile, Missouri Southern earned few scoring opportunities. The Lions were hitless through three innings.

Missouri Southern (17-33) had its best chance to score in the bottom of the seventh when Kathryn Goins led off with a single to right-center, and Brooklyn Farrell followed with a single to left field. However, Rios struck out Brooke Swadley before Dru Coleman hit into a double play to end the game.

The Lion bats came alive in the second game. Michala Wood opened the game with a double down the right-field line. An error and singles from Dawn Grass and Alexah Replogle led to two Missouri Southern runs.

MSSU added a run in the second with an RBI single from Shelby Romines, who finished the day 3-for-6.

Those were all the runs the Lions needed as pitcher Haley Kinnison (10-15) pitched seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. Kinnison allowed only five hits.

“When Haley’s on, she’s very good,” Gray said. “She had a good mix of speeds.”

Kinnison used her changeup as an effective strikeout pitch. She used it for all three strikes against one batter.

“I was able to throw it for strikes,” she said. “I used it three times in a row. I guess it must have been moving pretty good.”

Tuesday was the final home game for Missouri Southern seniors Brooklyn Farrell, Chloe Brown, Shelby Romines and Dawn Grass.

“These seniors have come in and lived up beyond expectations,” Gray said. “They came in as freshman and sophomores and worked into their roles and became leaders.”

Missouri Southern finishes the season with a pair of road doubleheaders against Central Missouri on Friday and Southwest Baptist on Saturday.

“We definitely want to finish strong,” Kinnison said. “We haven’t had the best season, but if we finish strong we can carry the momentum into next season.”

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