While a lot of the student body was away on luxurious spring break trips, the Missouri State softball team spent its break with trips to Carbondale, Illinois, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Then, the Bears finished off spring break with a three-game series against Loyola at Killian Stadium from March 16-17.

Missouri State earned a dramatic 5-3 win in its Missouri Valley Conference opener against Southern Illinois on March 12 before dropping the second game of the doubleheader, 11-2. 

“Game one was really a gut-check performance by Steffany (Dickerson) in the circle and excellent focus by our batters late in a close ball game,” head coach Holly Hesse said in a press release. “We had a rough first inning in the second game which put us in a hole that we weren’t able to recover from.

“The thing I liked is we never stopped competing, and our young players really got a full dose of Missouri Valley Conference softball.”

The game-one victory by the Bears extended their win streak to six games at the time, the club’s longest streak since 2015. 

Missouri State stepped out of the Valley on March 14 for a single game at Southeast Missouri State.

A three-run first inning by SEMO put the Bears in an early hole they were unable to overcome in a 5-2 loss on Thursday. 

“We dug ourselves a hole which was the difference in the game,” Hesse said. “We certainly had some positives as well. We had some players who had been struggling really perform well. I think (it) made us better, which will help as we get back into Valley play.”

Against Loyola, Missouri State rode the arms of starting pitchers Erin Griesbauer and Dickerson to earn a pair of Valley wins, 2-1 and 1-0.

Dickerson went the distance in game one, striking out six with no walks and no earned runs.

Griesbauer tossed her second complete-game of the year, keeping the Ramblers in check on three hits and three strikeouts.

The Bears also received some clutch hitting in both games as well.

In game one, sophomore Daphne Plummer collected a walk-off single to secure the win.

Dickerson laid down a squeeze bunt to score senior Kyana Mason for the game-winning run in game two. 

“Every time we play Loyola, it’s going to be a low-scoring game,” Hesse said. “We needed a good defensive performance and we got it.”

In Sunday’s matchup, Dickerson stepped up once again, fanning nine batters to lift Missouri State to a sweep over Loyola.

The 5-3 win for the Bears gives them a 17-9 overall record for the season and they improved to 4-1 in conference play. 

“We really did a nice job up and down the lineup of battling at the plate and moving runners over in key situations,” Hesse said. “I can’t say enough about Steff. She really competed out there. She had one rough inning, but that only made her stronger.”

The Bears resume play with another non-conference game on March 20. This time around, Missouri State will play host to Saint Louis University before continuing Valley conference play next weekend from March 23-24 against Northern Iowa.

Derek Shore is a Sports Reporter at The Standard. He is a junior majoring in journalism with a minor in communications. He started writing about sports for The Standard during the fall semester of 2018.