With one out in the sixth inning, freshman right fielder Dakota Kotowski stepped up to the plate. Missouri State was down by one as he launched his third homerun as a Bear into left field, tying the game up 5-5.

Kotowski’s dad, mom and one of his sisters jumped up from their seats screaming and cheering, as this was the first time they have seen him play at Hammons Field.

“He works really hard, and we are so excited for him,” said Adam Kotowski, Dakota’s father.

Adam said he drove down to Springfield on Tuesday to surprise Dakota at the Arkansas game – and it just so happened to be his 19th birthday.

As for his mom and Dakota’s three sisters, they made the seven-hour trip from Channahon, Illinois, just in time for the start of Friday’s game. Erin, Dakota’s mother, said they did not have big plans to explore Springfield this weekend. The Kotowski’s said they just want to spend time with Dakota since they haven’t seen him since Christmas.

“It’s baseball, eat, baseball, eat and more baseball,” Erin said.

Another baseball Bear mom had the same weekend plans with her son.

Joy Ely, mother of freshman Mason Hull, said when she comes to Springfield, it’s a very quiet weekend filled with a lot of baseball and food.

Ely said she was planning on working for half of the day on Friday before making the 5-hour trip to Springfield from Effingham, Illinois, but when she found out the game was moved up, she got on the road immediately.

“I just love watching him play,” Ely said. “I’ve traveled to Texas, California, Springfield. I don’t try to miss very many games.”

Mason’s girlfriend, Missouri State freshman Kaylie Allred, has been to every single Bears baseball game since the spring opener on Feb. 15, with the exception of the three-game series in San Diego a month ago.

“My favorite part of watching is seeing him do what he loves,” Allred said. “I love watching him have fun with his teammates and seeing them celebrate when someone gets a hit or makes an impossible play. They are a really fun team to watch.”

In honor of Spring Family Weekend, the Missouri State Family Association passed out popcorn at the front gates of Hammons Field. T-shirts were included in the ticket price.

They also held a food drive to collect items to donate to the Bear Pantry, which partners with Missouri State’s Center for Community Engagement to serve members of the MSU community who face food insecurity. The food drive saw a big turnout, collecting 21 large bags worth of food — enough to fill two rows of a car. 

The baseball Bears kicked off Spring Family Weekend with an 11-inning walk-off double from junior Drew Millas, snapping their 7-game losing streak with a win over Indiana State on Friday. 

Saturday’s game was moved to Sunday due to weather conditions. The Bears split the doubleheader winning the first game in walk-off fashion, 1-0. The Sycamores got the bats going in afternoon game, winning 12-0 over the Bears.

Claire began as a sports reporter for The Standard in March of 2018. She covers football, baseball, and basketball. Claire is a junior at Missouri State University majoring in Communication Studies with a double minor in Journalism and Marketing.