DES MOINES, Iowa – Junior Shannon King (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty) went 4-for-7 with two runs scored and drove in four as she helped Bradley split a Missouri Valley Conference doubleheader at Drake Saturday. The Bulldogs won the opening game 3-2, before the Braves outslugged Drake for a 10-8 victory in the day’s second game.
The split, coupled with Northern Iowa’s split of a doubleheader against Loyola Saturday guaranteed Bradley (24-29 overall, 15-11 MVC) at least fourth in the MVC standings and a first-round bye in next week’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. The Braves can finish as high as third in the league standings with a victory Sunday against Drake and an Indiana State win at third-place Southern Illinois.
King got her big day started with a two-out, two-run single in the top of the first of the opener to give Bradley an early 2-0 lead. Drake (18-31 overall, 10-14 MVC) answered with a run in the bottom of the first on a bases loaded groundout by Hayley Nybo.
The Bulldogs tied things up at 2-2 with a run in the third, with Megan Sowa scoring from third on a two-out Bradley error. Sowa led off the fifth with a triple and later scored the go-ahead run on a double steal to put the Bulldogs in front 3-2.
The Braves tried to rally in the seventh with senior Mariah Cole (Springfield, Ill./Chatham Glenwood) opening the inning with a single. Junior Alyson Clemente (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) had a two-out single before Drake starter Rebekah Schmidt retired the next batter to close out the 3-2 win for the Bulldogs.
King was one of four Bradley players to tally three hits in the nightcap to help power the Braves to a 10-8 win. She also had two runs and a pair of RBI to help highlight the win. Seniors Brianne Joseph (Post Falls, Idaho/Post Falls) and Madeline Lynch-Crumrine (Sedro-Woolley, Wash./Sedro-Woolley) along with sophomore Kendall Duffy (Naperville, Ill./Benet Academy) joined King with three-hit performances.
Like the first game, Bradley had an early 2-0 lead after a two-out, two-run King single in the first inning. King had a two-out single in the third and later scored on a Duffy single to right to give the Braves a 3-0 advantage.
Drake pulled within a run on a two-out, two-run single by Laura Brewer in the bottom half of the third to trim the BU lead to 3-2.
A five-run fifth inning pushed the Bradley lead to 8-2. King opened the frame with a single and scored on a Joseph single. Clemente pushed her team-high RBI total to 29 with a two-run single to left and senior Marina Groenewegen (Surrey, British Columbia/Elgin Park Secondary/Southern Idaho) matched her for the team lead with a RBI single of her own. Lynch-Crumrine, who became the third player in MVC history with 45 career wins and 150 hits, capped the five-run inning with a RBI single to left.
A two-run homer by Cortney Wood in the bottom of the sixth pulled Drake within 8-4 and was the first of two homers by the Bulldogs.
The Braves added a pair of important insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Joseph singled to open the inning and later scored on a Groenewegen single. Clemente was later able to race home from third when Lynch-Crumrine was caught stealing as Bradley led 10-4 heading to the bottom of the seventh.
Drake loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with a pair of singles and hit batter for Schmidt, who ripped a grand slam to center field to cut the BU advantage to 10-8. Junior Alyson Spinas-Valainis (Davenport, Iowa/Assumption) took over in the circle for Bradley starter Jaelen Hull (Clifton, Ill./Bishop McNamara), who retired the next two batters she faced to earn her second save of the year. Hull earned the victory for the Braves, improving to 6-12 on the year.
Bradley and Drake close out the three-game series Sunday at noon in Des Moines, Iowa.