AKRON, Ohio - In a battle of co-MAC Champions, the Ball State softball team clinched its second shutout of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, by defeating the No. 1 seed, Kent State, 6-0 Friday at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio. The Cardinals, 3-0 in the tournament, will play for the MAC championship and a berth to the NCAA Regional at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Ball State's Elizabeth Milian (Grand Blanc, Mich./Grand Blanc) has allowed just one run in all 21 innings she has pitched in the tournament. She has also struck out 10 or more batters in each of the last five games she has started for the Cardinals - including 11 strikeouts against the Golden Flashes. The four-year ace is now 30-5 this season and has been in the circle for 12 of the team's 15 shutouts.
The Cardinals offense got an early start and posted two runs in the first inning. After Lisa Rozanski (Tampa, Fla./Alonso) and Alicia Barkley (Oklahoma City, Okla./Putnam City) reached on walks, Amanda Carpenter (Santee, Calif./Santana) hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Rozanski for the Cardinals' first run of the game. Then, Alyssa Collins (Fortville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) hit a double against Kent State's MAC Pitcher of the Year Kylie Reynolds.
Ball State pulled ahead to 3-0 in the third when Carpenter hit her second triple of the tournament to score Barkley, representing the junior's second consecutive walk.
Rozanski would notch the Cardinals next hit in the top of the seventh inning on a single to third base. Hannah Zimmerman (Indianapolis, Ind./Scecina Memorial), pinch hitting for Meredith Nash (Peculiar, Mo./Raymore-Peculiar), reached prior to Rozanski's hit on an error by Kent State's third baseman, Jessica Carmichael, and then stole second. With two runners on base and two outs, Barkley tripled to drive in both Zimmerman and Rozanski and increased the Cardinals lead to 5-0. Carpenter followed and reached first on the Golden Flashes' second error of the game which score Barkley.
Kent State tallied three hits and two errors, while Ball State notched four hits and remained perfect on defense.
The Cardinals are now 42-14 this season and will play in the championship game Saturday when they take on the winner of Friday's 7:30 p.m. game between Miami and Northern Illinois - check back on www.ballstatesports.com for updates. Ball State's only tournament title was won in 1998 under former head coach Terri Laux. Winning the conference tournament provides an automatic bid to the NCAA Regional May 21-23 at campus sites that will be announced later this week.