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MUNCIE, Ind. – The Ball State softball team captured its fourth Mid-American Conference regular season title in five years with a doubleheader sweep of Buffalo Friday afternoon at the BSU Softball Complex.
With a two-and-a-half game lead in the MAC standings heading into Friday’s twin bill, the Cardinals needed two wins to clinch the regular season title and came through with just that.
With the sweep, Ball State improves to 34-14 on the season and clinches the 2013 Mid-American Conference regular season championship with a 17-2 league mark. Buffalo falls to 15-31 (5-13 MAC) with the two loses.
Kent State, who trailed the Cardinals in the MAC race also swept its doubleheader at Miami today to improve to 26-18-1 (15-5 MAC), but cannot catch the Cardinals with just two games remaining in the league season.
In the opener, the Cardinals scored a pair of runs in the first inning thanks to a two-run single from junior third baseman Audrey Bickel and held on to win 3-2.
In the nightcap, Ball State rallied from down 2-0 for a 5-3 victory aided by a three-run home run from junior first baseman Taylor Rager.
The Ball State softball team closes the regular season with single games versus Kent State Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) at the BSU Softball Complex. Sunday’s game will serve as senior day, with Ball State recognizing five members of its squad: Amanda Carpenter, Julie Cortez, Sadie Robertson, Audra Sanders and Lauren Williamson.
GAME ONE RECAP: Ball State 3 – Buffalo 2
After holding the Bulls off the board in the top of the first inning, the Cardinals pulled out to an early 2-0 edge in the bottom of the frame. Sophomore designated player Loren Cihlar opened the inning with a walk and advanced to third on a one-out single from junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert.
After a walk to Rager loaded the bases, and a fielder’s choice from Carpenter kept the bases loaded as Buffalo recorded an out on the lead runner. Bickel would then come through with a two-run single to give BSU the lead for good in the contest.
Buffalo cut the BSU lead in half in the top of the second on a two-out single from Jessica Griffin which was followed by a RBI double from Dani Cowan.
However, Ball State reclaimed the two-run advantage in the bottom of the inning as a two-out RBI single from sophomore right fielder Hanne Stuedemann drove in sophomore second baseman Taylor Cox who reached on a one-out bunt single.
The Bulls would get their final run of the contest in the top of the third as an inning-opening BSU error and a two-out double from Alyssa Ward made the score 3-2.
From there, freshman pitcher Nicole Steinbach shut down the Buffalo offense, allowing just one hit the rest of the game, including retiring the final 10 Bulls batters she faced.
In improving to 14-8 on the season, Steinbach limited the UB offense to just five hits and two runs (one earned) over seven innings. She also struck out five batters and did not issue a walk.
Cowan suffered the loss in the circle for Buffalo, falling to 0-9 on the year after giving up eight hits and three runs over six innings of work. She would strikeout four batters while walking three.
GAME TWO RECAP: Ball State 5 – Buffalo 3
Buffalo came out strong in the second game, capitalizing on a leadoff BSU error to plate a pair of unearned runs in the first frame. Ward started the scoring with a RBI squeeze bunt, while a RBI fielder’s choice from Holly Luciano brought home the second run.
Ball State would cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second thanks to a leadoff double from Rager followed by a one-out RBI double from Bickel.
The Cardinals took the lead for good in the bottom of the third with the help of Rager’s 10th home run of the season. A one-out infield single from Cihlar started the rally, while Stuedemann drew a walk to give BSU two runners. Following the team’s second out, Rager blasted a three-run shot over the right field wall to give Ball State a 4-2 edge.
Buffalo would get one run back in the top of the fourth thanks to the help of another BSU error, cutting the lead to 4-3.
Ball State answered back with the game’s final run in the bottom of the inning, thanks to a RBI groundout from junior pinch hitter Lauren Schroeder. Bickel walked to open the inning and was replaced by junior pinch runner Julie Cortez. Cortez advanced to third on a double from senior catcher Sadie Robertson and scored two batters later on Schroeder’s groundout to short giving BSU a 5-3 edge.
The Cardinals’ biggest play of the day on defense came in the top of the seventh following a leadoff double from Alexis Curtiss. With no outs and a runner at second, Cox would track down a Luciano pop fly towards the right field line and throw out pinch runner Kenzie Koch trying to advance to third for Ball State’s league-leading 29th double play of the season.
Carpenter followed with a catch in center field to end the game and give Ball State its fourth MAC title over the last five seasons.
Senior relief pitcher Audra Sanders took control over the final three innings, holding Buffalo to just two hits and a pair of walks to pick up her second save of the season.
Freshman pitcher Kelsey Schifferdecker earned the win, improving to 13-4 by limiting the Bulls to seven hits and three unearned runs over four innings of work. She would also strikeout a pair of batters.
Cowan would suffer her second loss of the day in the circle for Buffalo, falling to 0-10 after giving up four hits and four runs over 2.2 innings.
OXFORD, Ohio – The Miami University softball team suffered a tough doubleheader sweep at the hands of Kent State on Friday. The Golden Flashes won the opener, 2-0. They then scored two runs in the top of the seventh to take a 3-2 victory in the nightcap. Miami falls to 11-9 in Mid-American Conference play, 18-31 overall. Kent State improves to 15-5 in the MAC and 26-18-1 overall.
Jenna Modic allowed only single runs in the top of the first and top of the second innings in the opener. She gave up two earned runs on nine hits in six innings of work, striking out three.
Miami got base runners in every inning except the seventh off starter Emma Johnson, even though she held the RedHawks to one hit. It came in the bottom of the first with Tiyona Marshall on second base and two outs. Modic singled to left field, and the speedy Marshall rounded third and attempted to score. A great throw from left fielder Dani Ramos was in time to retire Marshall. Johnson would strike out a total of six batters on the way to throwing the shutout.
Megan Mattera was on target for the RedHawks in the nightcap. She allowed only one unearned run in the top of the fourth. She gave up three hits in 5.2 innings pitched, while striking out three.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Miami finally broke through on Johnson. Mattera led off with a single through the left side. Shanyn McIntyre attempted to put down a sacrifice bunt, but the Kent State third baseman attempted to throw out the lead runner. Mattera was safe and the RedHawks had runners on first and second with no one out. A sacrifice bunt by Kylie McChesney moved both runners up a base. Kristy Arbour followed with an infield single that loaded the bases with one out. Taylor Shuey then hit a grounder to the shortstop. The shortstop threw the ball away attempting to get the force out at home, allowing Mattera and McIntyre to score and give Miami a 2-1 lead.
It remained that way until the top of the seventh inning. A walk, a bunt and a double down the left field line brought home the tying run and put runners on second and third with no one out. Modic came into the game and retired the next two before issuing a walk to load the bases. Lauren Grimes followed with a grounder to the left side of the infield. Reed attempted to get the force out at home, but the runner was called safe giving the Golden Flashes a 3-2 lead. Johnson retired Miami in order in the bottom of the seventh to secure the victory.
Marshall finished the nightcap 3-for-4. McIntyre was 2-for-3 with one run scored.
The RedHawks return to action on Saturday when they host Buffalo at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on Miami All-Access for those who have a subscription.
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Central Michigan Softball swept Akron in a doubleheader at Lee R. Jackson Softball Stadium on Friday, May 3. The Chippewas came from two down in game one to win 3-2, and won game two in convincing fashion, 12-1, in five innings.
CMU has locked up at least the No. 3-seed in next week's MAC Tournament.
Seniors Brogan Darwin and Macy Merchant finished the day 5-7 at the plate with two RBIs each. Six different Central Michigan batters recorded two RBIs for the series. Freshman Katelyn Rentschler hit her fifth homerun of the season in game two.
In game two, Central Michigan scored seven runs in the third inning to cruise to a 12-1 victory in five innings. Merchant led the third inning off with a single, immediately stole second and advanced to third on a groundout by junior Raechel Zahrn. Junior Cory DeLamielleure scored Merchant with a sac-bunt for the second out of the inning. Darwin and sophomore Trista Cox hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. An error by the shortstop loaded the bases with junior Brittney Horan up to bat. Horan hit a double to right-center field to score two runs.
Sophomore CarolAnn Sexauer brought two more home with a single to left, putting Central Michigan up 7-0. Junior Lauren Bowman, in as a pinch runner for Sexauer, scored after stealing third and then a throwing error on the catcher allowed her to come home. Merchant came up to bat once more in the inning, hitting another single, this time scoring senior Summer Knoop who reached with a single of her own.
The Chippewas did not let up at all in the fourth, scoring two more runs. After fly ball by DeLamielleure, Darwin recorded her third hit of the game with a single to right. She then scored on a two-shot homerun from Rentschler, her fifth of the season.
Central Michigan added one more in the fifth to go up 12-0. Merchant hit a lead off single but was caught in a fielder’s choice that put Zahrn on first. Darwin advanced the runner to second with a single to left field. A double down the left field line scored Zahrn from.
Akron broke the shut out in the bottom of the fifth with a homerun from Kellie Roudabush.
The Chippewas struck first in the top of the first inning, scoring two runs. Merchant laid down a bunt-single to reach first, and moved to second on fielder’s choice hit by Zahrn. DeLamielleure moved both runners with a sac-bunt, bringing Darwin to the plate with runners in scoring position. Darwin hit a double to right-center to score both runners.
Darwin led Central Michigan with four hits and two RBIs. Merchant finished 4-4 with one RBI. Four different Chippewa batters had multi-RBIs, and seven drove in at least one run. Junior Chelsea Sundberg pitched a complete game, giving up seven hits and striking out seven batters.
Roudabush had two hits and the Zips only run. Alissa Birkhimer went 3-3 from the plate. MacKenzie Conrad started in the circle for Akron but was pulled after surrendering eight runs in 2.2 innings. Lisa Lash pitched 2.0 innings, giving up six hits and three earned runs.
The Chippewas battled back from two down in game one against Akron. Trailing 2-1 in the sixth inning, Rentschler singled up the middle with one out to represent the tying run. Bowman came in as a pinch runner and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Sexauer reached base on balls as the go-ahead run, Knoop to the plate. Knoop hit an RBI single to right field to score Bowman and move Sexauer to third. Sexauer scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Merchant to give the Chippewas a 3-2 advantage.
Akron jumped out to an early lead in the third, putting up two runs on three hits. After a groundout to senior Kara Dornbos, Shawna Hochstetler singled. Roudabush moved Hochstetler to third on a double to center field. Birkhimer scored both runners on Akron’s second double of inning.
Central Michigan cut into the 2-0 deficit in the fifth after Merchant reached base on a single. Merchant stole second and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. DeLamielleure brought Merchant home with a sac-fly to left field.
Sexauer went 1-2 with an RBI. Merchant and Knoop both contributed an RBI and finished 1-3. Dornbos picked up her 12th win of the season. She pitched a complete game, giving up seven hits and striking out four batters.
Birkhimer accounted for both Akron’s RBIs off of 1-3 at the plate. Lash finished the game 2-3. Erin Seiler pitched all seven innings, striking out eight batters ad giving up six hits.
Central Michigan will travel to Ohio tomorrow, May 4, for game one against the Bobcats. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
DEKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois University softball team swept its third doubleheader of the season when the Huskies took two from Toledo on a cold and rainy day at Mary M. Bell Field Friday.
The Huskies (22-29, 12-8) opened the day in style with a walk-off victory in Game One before posting an 11-2 five inning win over the Rockets (15-33, 7-13) in the nightcap.
Trailing 5-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Northern Illinois rallied with four runs, capped off by Amanda Sheppard’s (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) two-run game-winning home run.
“The fight in this team is incredible,” said NIU head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “We truly believe if we have an out left in the game, we can win it. We continue to prove that over and over again.”
With runners at first and second with two outs, Bryanna Phelan (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) began the rally when she reached first base beating out the throw by the shortstop. Ashley Kopp (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale) and Erika Oswald (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) scored when the shortstop’s throw got away from the first baseman on Phelan’s hit to pull NIU to within a run. Sheppard completed the comeback when she belted Maria Gooding’s offering over the left centerfield fence.
Toledo opened the game with a three-run first inning and scored a run in the fourth and seventh. The Huskies battled back with a run in the first and another in the third. Jessica Sturm (Wichita, Kan./Goddard), who came in to pitch in relief in the fourth inning, picked up the win allowing one run on three hits in four innings of work.
Game Two was all NIU. The Huskies pounded out 13 hits and took advantage of two Rocket errors to score 11 runs with the big blow coming in the bottom of the second. After Toledo took a 1-0 lead in the top of the inning, NIU scored nine runs.
The Huskies sent 14 batters to the plate in the second with Jennifer Barnett (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli) and Shelby Miller (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) recording multiple hits in the inning and Nicole Gremillion (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) and Oswald driving in two runs in the inning.
“I didn’t know if we were ever going to get out of that second inning,” she said. “That was fun. I haven’t been part of two many innings like that. To continue to see them put the pressure on and score that many runs early was huge for us.”
Sturm picked up her second win of the day and her 11th win of the season allowing two runs on seven hits in five innings.
“Our pitchers knew they were going to come swinging and swinging hard,” Sutcliffe said. “Toledo scores a lot of runs and we knew we were going to have to match that. It was nice to see our offense pick the pitchers up.”
Phelan and Sheppard led the way for the Huskies Friday. Phelan was the catalyst, going 4-for-6 with three runs scored, including a 2-for-4 and two runs scored effort in Game One, from the lead-off spot. Sheppard drove in four runs on the day, going 4-for-5 with two runs scored. She was particularly effective in the first game, turning in a 3-for-3, three RBI, two runs scored performance.
The Huskies return to the diamond Saturday when NIU takes on Bowling Green. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. CT and fans can follow all the action live at NIUHuskies.com through Gametracker or they can watch the games on Huskie All-Access.
ATHENS, Ohio – The Ohio University softball team (25-26, 8-12 Mid-American Conference) earned a doubleheader split with visiting Eastern Michigan on Friday afternoon at the Ohio Softball Field. The Bobcats engineered an amazing comeback in the first game, scoring six runs in the final three innings to earn the win before dropping a 6-1 decision in the second game of the afternoon.
Both Ohio and Eastern Michigan (16-32-1, 6-13 MAC) hit at a .317 clip on Friday, each going 19-60 at the plate. Each team also generated seven extra-base hits, four of which for EMU were of the home run variety.
Lauren Gellerman (San Diego, Calif.) had a huge day offensively for the Green and White, hitting .856 (6-7) and slugging at a rate of 1.571 on the afternoon. The senior clubbed her MAC-leading 22nd home run of the season, strengthening her hold atop the summit of the league’s single-season home run mark.
Despite the series split, Ohio solidified its seventh-place position in the MAC standings based on results around the league. Akron and Toledo are currently tied for the No. 8 seed.
Game One: Ohio 6, Eastern Michigan 5 (Eight Innings)
Eastern Michigan struck first in the opening game of the afternoon, plating one run in the top of the second inning when Lauren Wells singled to center field, bringing Amanda Herron around to score with two outs in the frame.
The Eagles added to this lead in the top of the sixth inning, seemingly putting the game away when Jenn Lucas blasted a two-run home run to left field to give the visitors a sizable 3-0 lead heading into Ohio’s final six outs of the contest.
The ‘Cats had other ideas, however. Alexandria Basquez (Elk Grove, Calif.) led off the bottom of the sixth for Ohio with a pinch-hit single. A double by Caitlin Colvin (Bonney Lake, Wash.) then put two runners in scoring position. A few batters later, Kaylin Clarke (North Royalton, Ohio) came up in a pinch-hitting role with two outs and the bases loaded. The sophomore did not disappoint, roping a double to right center field which cleared the bases and tied the game. A Gellerman single to left field then brought Erin Lashley (Pickerington, Ohio) around to score, giving Ohio its first lead of the afternoon at 4-3.
EMU then reclaimed the lead in the top of the seventh inning when Herron hit a two-run home run to make it 5-4 in favor of the visitors.
Down to their final two outs, the Bobcats responded once again. Raven King (Alpine, Utah) tripled to right field before one more batter was retired. Freshman Amanda Dalton (Salem, Va.) stepped up in the clutch, hitting a single to the shortstop to bring home the tying run. Ohio was then able to earn the victory in the bottom of the eighth when Tessa Bailey (Acworth, Ga.) led off with a double and was brought around to score via a Gellerman single to center field.
Game Two: Ohio 1, Eastern Michigan 6
Ohio got two runners on base in the bottom of the first inning thanks to singles by Lashley and Gellerman, but it was Eastern Michigan who would strike first again in game two. Stanton led off the top of the second inning with a double down the left field line. One out and one walk later, Lucas hit her second home run of the day, a three-run blast which gave the visitors an early advantage.
Herron then hit her second round-tripper of the afternoon, driving a solo shot over the outfield wall to make it 4-0 in favor of the Eagles. A sacrifice fly by Courtney Loe then gave the Eagles their largest lead of the afternoon (5-0) in the top of the fifth inning.
Gellerman led off the bottom of the sixth frame with a solo shot to center, a bomb which was her 22nd home run of the season.
Eastern added to its lead in the top of the next inning, scoring one more run when Lucas singled to center, bringing Loe around to score to bring the game to its final tally of 6-1.
The Bobcats will next be in action on Saturday against Central Michigan. First pitch between the Bobcats and Chippewas is set for 5 p.m. at the Ohio Softball Field.
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Western Michigan softball team came from three runs down to defeat Bowling Green, 4-3, in the second game of Friday's doubleheader. Caity Pixley provided the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh.
The rally began with Christina Pigozzi ripping a single to left field. Jenny Rohn reached on a fielder's choice as Pigozzi was safe at second on a throwing error. Loren Nagy, who hit her team-best fifth home run earlier in the game, tagged a base hit to straight away center field, scoring Pigozzi.
Colleen Lynch was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Megan Stamm sent a shot to center field but it was caught. Luckily, Rohn dove in under the tag at third to not get doubled up. That set the stage for Pixley, who stroked a 1-1 pitch to right field, sending Rohn home and the Broncos to victory.
The base hit was part of a 3-for-4 game for Pixley as she and two other Broncos registered double digit hits in game two. Rohn and Nagy both went 2-for-4. Nagy's first hit was a lead off home run over the center field wall on the first pitch she saw in the bottom of the fourth.
Lynch scored WMU's second run of the game the hard way, by getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Bowling Green jumped out to a 3-0 lead early, scoring two on an Erika Stratton base hit to center field in the top of the first. Stratton was responsible for BGSU's final run, sending her second home run of the season over the left field wall in the top of the third.
The Falcons snuck by with a 2-0 win in the series opener, scoring on a Stratton single through the right side in the first and added an insurance run in the sixth on yet another Stratton base hit, this time up the middle. Stratton accounted for all five of Bowling Green's runs on Friday afternoon.
Western Michigan closes out its regular season with a two-game series against Toledo on Saturday and Sunday. First pitches are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.
Stick around after Saturday's game as the WMU softball team will be holding an autograph session just outside of Fran Ebert Field.