JOPLIN -- Pittsburg State has earned the Sonic Trophy point for softball with a doubleheader sweep of Missouri Southern, 7-1 and 7-2, on Wednesday (March 28) night at Lea Kungle Field in Joplin. Pitt State is now 17-16 on the season and 6-0 in MIAA play. The 6-0 start in league play is the program's best start since starting conference play 9-0 in 1994.
In game one, Pitt State scored seven runs on 10 hits, while holding the Lions to one run on eight hits and a Gorilla error. Pitt State was led by Tiffany Brown with a 3-for-4 performance with a run scored and a double, and Mannie DeCastro, who went 2-for-3 with a run, three RBI and a home run.
Pittsburg State got on the board early in game one as lead off batter Brenna George got the first hit of the game with a home run over the right field fence.
The Gorillas added two more runs in the top of the second. With one out, Devon McCreath dropped a bloop single between the pitching circle and the short stop. Cheslyn Mitchell was hit by a pitch with two outs in the inning. DeCastro followed with an RBI base hit to score McCreath and move Mitchell to third. A well executed and aggressive double steal from DeCastro and Mitchell resulted in a run for Mitchell and a 3-0 Pitt State lead. The last out also occurred on the play however, as DeCastro was thrown out trying to move to third after the throw home.
In the top of the seventh, Mitchell was hit by a pitch for the fourth time in the game to lead off the inning. DeCastro followed with a home run for a 5-1 Pitt State lead. Three consecutive hits by the Gorillas loaded the bases with no outs in the inning. A ground out by Riley Campbell for the first out of the inning scored Mitchell. With two outs, a base hit by McCreath scored the final out of the game to give the Gorillas a 7-1 lead.
Hilary Erbert earned the win for Pitt State to improve to 8-8 on the year. She gave up eight hits and only one run, which was unearned. She struck out five Lion batters and did not walk any. Haley Pypes pitched the first 3.2 innings in the loss for Missouri Southern. She gave up three runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Kayce Moore finished the game for the Lions and gave up the final four runs.
McCreath was a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs scored, one RBI and a home run to lead Pitt State in game two. Tiffany Brown also had three hits as she was 3-for-5 with a double, two home runs, two runs scored and three RBI.
George got the Gorillas started again in game two, this time in a less dramatic way. She led off the game with a walk. With two outs, Brown hit her 11th home run of the season for a 2-0 Pitt State lead.
Missouri Southern narrowed the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the second.
Kayla Sears led off the Pitt State half of the fourth with a walk. Katelyn Birchfield came in to pinch run for her. McKenzie Rynard reached on a fielder's choice that put Birchfield out at second for the first out of the inning. After the second out, McCreath singled to left and George walked to load the bases. Mitchell reached on a fielder'schoice that saw all runners safe and Rynard score for the 3-1 Pitt State lead.
Missouri Southern again came within a run on a hit and an error in the bottom of the fourth.
Pitt State answered in the following half inning as Brown hit her second home run of the game to lead off the inning and give the Gorillas a 4-2 lead.
McCreath added another home run for the Gorillas, the first of her Pitt State career, to lead off the top of the sixth.
The Gorillas took advantage of a Missouri Southern error in the top of the seventh to add to more runs. Birchfield led off the inning with a base hit to center. She moved into scoring position on a wild pitch and to third on a Rynard fly out. With two outs, McCreath drew a walk. Brenna George beat out an infield base hit, but an error on the play allowed both Birchfield and McCreath to score for the 7-2 win.
Mitchell started the game for Pitt State, but pitched only two innings, giving up four hits and a run. Jessica Barnes pitched the final five innings to earn the win and move her record to 3-2 for the season. She also gave up four hits and a run. Neither Lion run in the game was earned. Hannah Cooke threw 5.1 innings in the loss for Missouri Southern, giving up five runs on eight hits.
Pitt State will travel to St. Charles, Mo. to take on Lindenwood in a non-conference doubleheader at 2 p.m. on Friday (March 30), and to Jefferson City to face Lincoln at 1 p.m. on Saturday (March 31).