MSSU softball off to 3-1 start in MIAA

Mar. 10—The Missouri Southern State University softball team got off to a 3-1 start in MIAA play this weekend, sweeping Lincoln University in a doubleheader on Saturday before splitting two games with the University of Central Missouri on Sunday, with all four games at Pat Lipira Field.

During the second game Sunday, MSSU's Yazmin Vargas stole her 108th base, breaking the Missouri Southern all-time stolen base record.

In game one of a doubleheader Sunday against Central Missouri (7-10, 1-3), MSSU freshman starter Kiki Pickens (6-4) held Central Missouri hitless through four innings, courtesy of a stingy Southern defense, but Southern fell 2-1 despite outhitting the Jennies 7-4. It was the Lions first loss in seven home games.

Southern (19-6) got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning, when Katie Gray plated Kara Amos to put the Lions up 1-0.

Central Missouri logged its first hit of the game in the top of the fifth, when Breanna Newton singled up the middle. Abby Allnutt followed with another single and Amos came into the circle for MSSU. Aubrie McRoberts plated both runners on a full count with a single to short to put the Jennies up 2-1.

Gray and Adrianna Young led MSSU, both going 2 for 2. Pickens was saddled for the loss with two earned runs. Paige Petefish (2-3) got the win for UCM.

In game two, the Lions responded in a big way with an 8-0 run-rule win over the Jennies.

Southern claimed an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, when Taylor Nuckolls singled to right field to bring Vargas home.

The Lions added two more in the bottom of the second off a Kylee Jacks single up the middle that plated Young and Madison Grimes and made it 3-0.

MSSU made it a 5-0 game in the top of the third when Grimes hit a two-run triple that scored Kate Thurman and Gray.

The lead swelled to 7-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Vargas doubled up the middle to score Jacks, and Nuckolls hit a sacrifice fly to plate Vargas.

Southern wrapped up the 8-0 run-rule win in the bottom of the sixth inning when Abby DeSanto scored Vargas with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Grimes was 2 for 2 with two RBIs and Vargas finished 2 for 3 with an RBI and three runs. Jacks and Nuckolls both recorded two RBIs.

Amos (4-1) got the win in relief for MSSU, allowing just one hit, while walking one in 4 2/3 innings of work.

UCM's Brooke Weimer (3-4) was tagged with the loss after giving up three runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings.

On Saturday, the Lion women went 2-0 against Lincoln (7-9, 0-2) with 4-1 and 14-4 wins.

In game one, the teams were tied after the first inning, but Southern added one run each in the second, fourth and fifth innings to garner the win. Amos and Thurman both went 2 for 3 in the game and Pickens got the win after giving up one run on four hits with three strikeouts in seven innings. Vargas stole three bases for the Lions.

In game two on Saturday, the Lions got off to a strong start with nine runs in the first inning. That opening frame saw the entire MSSU batting order make it on base with no outs.

Three Lions recorded multiple hits in the run-rule shortened game. Nuckolls was 3-for-3, including a triple, with three RBIs and two runs. Vargas was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs and Amos was 2 for 3 with a run. Gray drove in four runs, going 1 for 3 at the plate and Jacks and Nuckolls each stole two bases.

Lily Rand (2-2) garnered the win, giving up one run on three hits while fanning four in three and a third innings of work.

The Lions return to action Thursday with a double header against Augustana University (South Dakota) as part of the MIAA/NSIC Crossover Tournament. The first pitch for game one is slated for 2 p.m. at Pat Lipira Field.