DePaul 4, Northern Illinois 2
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University softball team battled, but came up short in an extra inning affair with DePaul, falling 4-2, in nine innings at Mary M. Bell Field Tuesday afternoon.
"It was a great game all around," NIU head coach Lindsay Chouinard said. "The pitchers came to throw today and the defense came to play. That's what we've been pressing to them the last four weeks, defense wins championships.
"That's the reason we were in that game is because they made the plays when they needed to make the plays."
NIU (12-21, 2-2) played flawless defense and answered every DePaul score through seven innings. Left fielder Amanda Sheppard (Oak Forest, Ill/Oak Forest) set the tone for the Huskie defense in the second inning when she threw out Bittney Yniguez who was trying to score from second base with two outs to keep the game scoreless. With the score 1-0 DePaul in the top of the third and runners on second and third with two outs, third baseman Adriana Sanchez (San Fernando, Calif./Alemany) snared a line drive saving two more runs.
Sanchez came up in the bottom of the inning and belted a solo home run over the left field wall to tie the game 1-1. After DePaul (18-12) took a 2-1 lead on a Samantha Dodd homer to right in the top of the fifth, Sanchez tied the game again when she hit a one-out home run, this time over the center field fence.
Neither team was able to gain the advantage in the next two innings, sending the game into extra innings. Both teams went down in order in the eighth. With two on and one out in the top of the ninth, pinch hitter Marie Thompson doubled to left field, clearing the bases and giving the Blue Demons a 4-2 lead.
Northern Illinois had its chances in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases with one out. Unfortunately for NIU, the next two Huskie batters were unable to drive in the tying or winning runs and the inning and the game came to an end.
Sophomore Morgan Bittner (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly), who came into pitch for starter Monica Segura (Santa Ana, Calif./Segerstrom Fundamental) in the fourth inning, took the loss, allowing three runs on four hits in six innings of work. Segura allowed one run on three hits in three innings.
Sanchez accounted for much of the Huskie finishing the day with a 3-for-4 performance from the plate with two RBis and two runs scored.
Northern Illinois University travels to Ohio this weekend for a doubleheader with Akron on Friday and a weekend set with Ohio. First pitch for the Huskies and Zips is set for 12 p.m. with the second game to follow.
Miami 2, Eastern Kentucky 0
Miami 6, Eastern Kentucky 4
RICHMOND, Ky. - Miami made it five wins in its past six games with a doubleheader sweep of Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday. The RedHawks won the opener 2-0, and took the nightcap 6-4. Miami improves to 16-15 overall, while the Colonels fall to 11-25.
Meredith Linch's strong pitching was the story of game one. She threw a complete game shutout allowing only three hits and one walk. Only one runner reached second base the entire game. She finished with six strikeouts to improve her record to 5-6.
Miami got its runs in the top of the fourth inning. Alicia Hogl led off the frame with a double to right center. Sarah Billstrom moved her over to third with a successful sacrifice bunt. Shannon Tillett then singled her home to make it 1-0. After Lindsay Randall was put in to pinch run for Tillett, a Kathryn Russette groundout moved Randall over to second, while Casey Drees singled up the middle to bring her home.
Tillett finished the game 2-for-3 with one RBI. Drees was 1-for-3 with one RBI.
The RedHawks struck very quickly for four runs in the top of the first inning of game two. Daniela Torres was walked to begin the game. Meghan Mawn and Hogl followed with singles to load the bases. Billstrom then hit her seventh home run of the season over the left field fence to make it 4-0. It was her first career grand slam.
Eastern Kentucky answered with a grand slam home run of its own in the bottom of the second inning off starter Shalise Lugo. Miami brought Jessica Simpson in for a rare relief appearance to begin the third. She would then proceed to keep the Colonels off the board for the rest of the game.
In the top of the sixth inning, Miami loaded the bases with only one out. Billstrom once again came to bat and this time drew a walk to force a run in. Two batters later, Russette singled to score Torres and complete the scoring.
For the game Billstrom was 2-for-3 with one walk and a career-high five RBI. Russette was 1-for-4 with one RBI. Simpson finished with five innings pitched giving up three hits and striking out three.
Miami returns to Mid-American Conference play this weekend at home. The RedHawks will host Eastern Michigan on Friday for a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. They will then take on Central Michigan for single games on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
IPFW 5, Ball State 4
MUNCIE, Ind. - Down by four after the first inning, the Ball State softball team was unable to regain ground against non-conference opponent IPFW and suffered a 5-4 loss at the BSU Softball Complex, Tuesday. The defeat moves the Cardinals to 21-8 on the season, while the Mastodons improve to 20-10.
Going into the game, the IPFW batters had claimed 27 home runs this season to Ball State's 13. This batting power and wind gusts, which were reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, proved to be a lethal combination for the Cardinals' defense. The Mastodons' Stacey Swinford showed Ball State just how lethal when she sent the ball sailing over the fence for a two RBI home run in the first inning.
Swinford's homer followed runs posted by Rachel Staschuk and Kristina Karpun who both crossed the plate when Cassie Wolfe's single to left field was mishandled by Ball State's Amanda Carpenter (Santee, Calif./Santana). The error, Carpenter's first this season, advanced Wolfe to second base and allowed IPFW to post its first two points of the game.
The Cardinals were unable to answer until the second inning when Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield that drove in Jessie Ware (Phoenix, Ariz./Hamilton) who was on third after hitting her eighth triple of the season.
Then, in the bottom of the fourth inning, Alicia Barkley (Oklahoma City, Okla./Putnam City) and Ware each singled to set things in motion for Ball State to score. Following Ware, Carpenter singled and advanced to second on an error by Swinford. The centerfielder's error allowed Barkley to score and advanced Ware to third base. The motion ended, however, when Jen Reifschneder (Wichita, Kan./Maize) was struck out by Courtney Cronin.
Cronin struck out nine batters in the game.
The Cardinals defense held IPFW to four runs until the sixth inning when Cassie Wolfe slugged her fourth home run of the season and the Mastodon's 29th. This was the ninth home run given up this season by Ball State's Audra Sanders (Lynnville, Ind./Tecumseh) who was charged with the loss and is now 5-4 in the circle.
In the bottom of the sixth, Ware, who was a perfect three-for-three at bat, put a play into motion for the Cardinals with a triple to centerfield. Ware advanced to home on the play as the second baseman overthrew the ball to third. This is Ware's ninth triple of the season and she is now tied with Cindy Sands (1987) as the single season leader in the Ball State record books.
Sanders and the Ball State defense were able to keep the Mastodons from scoring in the seventh, so the Cardinals trailed by two heading into the final inning.
The first Cardinal to take the plate, Kate Wilczynski (Tucson, Ariz./Canyon Del Oro), who was at bat for Reifschneider, slugged a home run over the centerfield fence to decrease the Mastodons' lead by one. Following the home run, IPFW exchanged Amanda Olender for Cronin on the mound.
Alyssa Freiling (Bixby, Okla./Sequoyah) caught a piece of Olender's pitch, but the Mastodons were kept safe by their leftfielder, Swanson. Then, Jen Moore (Canton, Ohio/Jackson), pinch hitting for Sadie Robertson (Fenton, Mo./Rockwood Summit), was struck out swinging. Needing one run to tie the game and faced with two outs, Lisa Rozanski (Tampa, Fla./Alonso) stepped up to bat. Rozanski kept the Cardinals' drive alive by singling up the middle. The game ended on the next play, however, as Alyssa Collins (Fortville, Ind./Mt. Vernon) grounded out to Olender who was credited with the save.
Now 2-1 at home, the Cardinals will host two conference opponents this weekend at the BSU Softball Complex. On Friday, beginning at 1p.m., Ball State will play the current Mid-American Conference leader, Central Michigan, in a doubleheader. After playing the Chippewas, the Cardinals host Eastern Michigan at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.