SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Junior Chelsea Jones pitched four shutout innings of relief and hit a walk-off double Thursday as Missouri State rallied from behind for a 4-3 victory in its home opener against SIU Edwardsville. The win was the 500th together for MSU coaches Holly Hesse, Sue Frederick and Beth Perine.
"It is good for us to have these games where we are down early," Hesse said. "It is going to happen against good teams and in the postseason. (Chelsea) Jones has really been a leader both in the circle and at the plate for us. I am really proud of the way she has stepped up as a junior this year. We have certainly had a number of great players come through here to get us to 500 wins as a staff."
Jones had two hits to lead the way for MSU (14-7). She scored a run in addition to driving home the game-winner. Jones now has a seven-game hitting streak in which she is hitting .632 (12-for-19). In the circle, she shut down the SIUE (6-14) offense to the tune of just two hits over the final four innings for her sixth victory of the season.
Rebecca McPherson and Bethany Sullinger each recorded a hit and scored a run. McPherson also drove home a run, the game-tying run in the sixth.
Missouri State fell into an early hole as the Cougars scored twice on three first-inning hits. SIUE increased the lead to 3-0 in the third when a leadoff walk was driven in with two outs.
The Bears got their first hit in the bottom of the third. Erin Duewel led off the inning with an infield single. She was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Braxton Coil, but remained there to end the frame.
In the fifth inning, McPherson flied to center but the ball was dropped allowing the leadoff batter to reach base. Two batters later, Coil again moved the runner into scoring position with another sacrifice bunt. Kerri Cunningham reached on an infield hit to put runners at the corners. On the next pitch, Cunningham attempted to steal second. After intentionally getting in a rundown, McPherson stole home as Cunningham slid safely back to first to get MSU on the board.
The Bears rallied again in the sixth. Jones and Sullinger singled back-to-back to center field. Heather Duckworth sacrifice bunted both runners into scoring position. Stacia Boeckstiegel put down a squeeze bunt to successfully push the first run home. Then with two outs, McPherson singled to right-center to tie the game at 3-3.
Jones pitched around a leadoff walk aided by a leaping snag of a liner by Duckworth to end the top of the seventh.
SIUE got two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Ashley Brentz worked an eight-pitch walk to keep the inning alive. On the next pitch, Jones roped a double past the left fielder scoring Brentz from first for the walk-off victory.