Story Courtesy of Ball State Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In its second ever appearance at the NCAA Regional, the Ball State softball team suffered a 5-0 loss to the nation's 15th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols in a first round game of the double elimination Regional.
"We're taking it one game at a time, going out and doing the best we can do," Ball State head coach Craig Nicholson said in the post-game press conference Friday. "I don't feel at all like we played poorly tonight. There were some breaks that we didn't get and some things that happened over the course of the game; but I don't think we played poorly. I don't think there's any regrouping for us to do coming into tomorrow."
The Cardinals will face Louisville, which suffered a 1-0 loss to Virginia in its first round game, at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
"I think we're ready to go now," Elizabeth Milian (Grand Blanc, Mich./Grand Blanc) said in the post-game press conference Friday. "I think that, if anything, our team bounces back really well. Like Coach said, I don't think we played a bad game against Tennessee. And now I'll be pitching like it's my last game, so I think that's kind of a weapon in itself."
With two outs, Alicia Barkley (Oklahoma City, Okla./Putnam City) notched the first hit of the game with a single to centerfield in the first inning.
It was a different story for the Tennessee offense, which took an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Jessica Spigner doubled to right center to drive in the leadoff batter, Raven Chavanne, who was walked by Milian. Kat Dotson, who was also walked, was thrown out at home on a relay from Alyssa Collins (Fortville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) to Meredith Nash (Peculiar, Mo./Raymore-Peculiar) to Sadie Robertson (Fenton, Mo./Rockwood Summit) for the Lady Volunteers' second out. Next up was Lauren Gibson who hit a home run that scored two.
In the third inning, Tennessee's Ivy Renfroe walked Robertson after throwing 20 pitches to the freshman catcher, but it was to no avail for Ball State as Jessie Ware (Phoenix, Ariz./Hamilton) hit her second consecutive pop-up and Lisa Rozanski (Tampa, Fla./Alonso) was thrown out at first by the third baseman.
The Lady Vols loaded the bases in the bottom of the third and were nearly driven in on a deep hit to centerfield by Tiffany Huff, but Rozanski made the catch against the wall to end the inning and hold Tennessee's lead to three runs.
Tennessee scored its fourth run in the fourth which started when Erinn Webb singled up the middle. The next batter, Shelby Burchell was thrown out at first but Webb advanced to third base. Ashley Andrews followed with a sacrifice hit to first base that drove in Webb.
Again matching the number of total runs to the inning, the Lady Vols extended their lead to 5-0 in the fifth which began with a double by Kelly Grieve who advanced to third when Gibson grounded out to Milian. Grieve was driven in by Huff who singled to second base.
In the top of the sixth, Rozanski notched the Cardinals' second hit of the game by driving a double to left field. Barkley followed with a double, her second hit of the game, and Rozanski advanced to third base. Carpenter was unable to get on base, however, and the inning ended with both Rozanski and Barkley stranded.
Ball State tallied one hit in the seventh inning when Amando Montalto singled up the middle.
Milian pitched six innings for the Cardinals and allowed five earned runs, while striking out three. Renfroe got the victory for Tennessee with a complete game four hitter, while striking out seven and walking one.