East Peoria, Ill. – The Missouri S&T softball team opened the 2018 Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Softball Championship Tournament this Thursday (May 3) morning with aspirations of defeating top-seed and nationally 17th-ranked Illinois Springfield, but the Miners were unable to pull off the upset in dropping a 5-1 decision to the Prairie Stars at the EastSide Centre Complex Field Two.
The Miners, who were making their first conference tournament appearance since 2010 and are now 25-26 overall this season, were hampered by three errors in the contest as S&T trailed the conference regular season champions throughout the game and were unable to convert twice on bases loaded opportunities.
Illinois Springfield, which improved its record to 36-14 overall this spring, took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the opening inning as the Prairie Stars tallied two runs on a double by Lakyn Wagoner. S&T had a chance to put some runs on the scoreboard in the top of third as the Miners loaded the bases with two outs on singles by junior second baseman Hannah Franceschini (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield Central) and senior third baseman Monica Weiss (St. Louis, Mo./Marquette) coupled with a walk to sophomore shortstop Abby Klein (Kansas City, MO/Staley), but sophomore outfielder Olivia Young(Milstadt, Ill./Belleville Township) was retired for the third out on a grounder to first base.
Neither team was able to plate a run until the last half of the fifth inning when UIS netted three runs on as many hits to increase its lead to 5-0. Lakyn Wagoner homered to lead off the frame and a Natalie Cokel RBI single knocked in another run. A S&T throwing error by junior catcher Lauren King(O'Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt North) allowed the third Prairie Star run of the inning to score.
Missouri S&T produced its lone run in the top of the sixth on a run-scoring Olivia Young (Milstadt, Ill./Belleville Township) two-base hit, which scored Abby Klein (Kansas City, MO/Staley). Young belted a one-out pitch from UIS starter Jaycee Craver to the fence in left center field allowing Klein, who had singled earlier, to cross home plate. Junior first baseman Gretchen Egly (Joliet, Ill./Plainfield Central) followed with an infield groundout to end the inning.
A second S&T scoring chance occurred in the top of the seventh inning as the Miners loaded the bases with one out, but Craver stuck out sophomore pinch-hitter Jacey Allen (Roanoke, Texas/Byron Nelson) and Monica Weiss (St. Louis, Mo./Marquette) in successive at bats to conclude the game.
The Miners posted six base hits for the contest with six different individuals generating a hit. The top four hitters in S&T's batting order - Monica Weiss (St. Louis, Mo./Marquette), Abby Klein (Kansas City, MO/Staley), Olivia Young (Milstadt, Ill./Belleville Township), and Gretchen Egly (Joliet, Ill./Plainfield Central) each notched a hit as did Hannah Franceschini (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield Central) and Lauren King (O'Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt North). Young received first-team All-GLVC recognition this season while Weiss, Klein, and Egly were chosen as third-team all-league honorees.
Sophomore pitcher Avery English (Carterville, Ill./Carterville) (17-12), a two-time (2017-18) All-GLVC Third-Team selection, pitched the entire game for S&T and allowed five earned runs on 11 hits while striking out four and walking two UIS batters. Her counterpart, Jaycee Craver (11-4) achieved the win with a complete-game six hitter and fanned two S&T hitters.
The Lady Miners faced Truman State later Thursday afternoon) on field two in the elimination bracket of the double-elimination GLVC Tournament at the EastSide Centre. Truman State, the tourney's fifth seed, suffered a 3-1 setback to fourth-seed Missouri-St. Louis in its league tournament opener this morning. Results from their second game were not available at press time.