The Missouri State softball team finished off their nine-game homestand at Killian Stadium on Sunday against Northern Iowa.
The Bears started off the week breaking out the bats in a 6-0 win over Saint Louis, racking up a season-high 14 hits to capture its fourth shutout of the season.
Senior Kyana Mason and junior Darby Joerling collected three hits apiece to lead the hit parade that also included five extra-base hits for Missouri State. Sophomores Steffany Dickerson and Madison Hunsaker and junior Erin Griesbauer combined on the mound for the shutout, allowing just five hits and striking out four.
"Our goal is to score five or more runs every time we go out, and it was a very good day for our offense," head coach Holly Hesse said in a press release. "We got quality pitching from all three pitchers who got in the game, and we really showed competitive excellence throughout."
The Bears struggled on Saturday against the Panthers with a pair of losses, 2-0 and 6-3.
Missouri State stranded 12 runners in the opening game and committed five errors overall on the day.
"For the first time in a long time, I thought we looked like a young team at times," Hesse said in a press release. "Our pitchers did a great job getting ahead in the count, and they only gave up two earned runs all day. But UNI had a couple of big hits in key situations, and that was the difference."
In the series finale, the Bears won in dramatic fashion with Mason sprinting home from third base on a Northern Iowa wild pitch, scoring the winning run in a 3-2 walk-off victory Sunday for Missouri State.
The W marked Hesse’ 800th win.
“It’s the product of a long career and great staff,” Hesse said.
The Bears also improved to 19-11 overall on the season, 5-3 in Missouri Valley conference play.
“This is a team that is willing to overcome adversity,” Hesse said. “We have had several injuries and big losses to some key players. They don’t let anything get in their way. That to me is the definition of mental toughness. They don’t use anything as an excuse.
“They come out and they are all-in every game.”
Hunsaker, who has been a big part of the team’s early-season success, said the offense has been one of the big driving forces in the team’s success.
“The first weekend when we went down and beat (nationally-ranked) Auburn, I think that was big to what we could do as a team,” Hunsaker said. “Offense really started to click. I remember in the fall it was a worry like, ‘Are we going to score a lot of runs?’ That has actually been one of the stronger parts of our season.
“I think it has a lot do with us off the field. We are close. We care about each other off the field. It really helps on the field. I have a very good feeling about this season and more to come.”
Missouri State hits the road to take on Valparaiso from March 30-31.
“We talked about once we hit conference it is all about competitive excellence,” Hesse said. “That means defensively we are making every play we can. Offensively, we are putting the ball in play. The goal is always five runs or more. On the mound, we are always giving ourselves a chance to win.
“If we have competitive excellence in all aspects of the game, we’ll have a good chance to do well.”