OXFORD, Ohio - - The Ball State softball team slugged out 25 total hits and turned in a .385 team batting average to dominate the league's top pitching staff in a doubleheader sweep at Miami Sunday afternoon.
The Cardinals scored a 9-6 victory in the opener and following with a thrilling 13-12 come-from-behind victory in the nightcap at MU's Softball Stadium. With the two wins, the Cardinals run their overall record to 27-12 and improve to 6-2 in Mid-American Conference action. Miami falls to 25-14 (6-4 MAC) with the two losses.
Miami entered the week with a MAC-low 1.40 team ERA, but the Cardinals posted 21 earned runs over the two games to give the RedHawks a 10.50 ERA for the weekend.
Reigning MAC West Division Player of the Week sophomore left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) turned in one of the most impressive two-game performances of her collegiate career by blasting three home runs, a triple and a double over the two games. She also walked three times and finished the day with a 2.833 slugging percentage, a .833 (5-for-6) batting average, seven runs scored and six RBI.
In all, the Cardinals blasted five home runs on the day, including shots from sophomore third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) and senior catcher Amanda Montalto (Las Vegas, Nev./Palo Verde) in the opener.
In addition to the solid offensive performances, senior pitcher Kim Mazzapica (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake) picked up the wins in both contests and now leads the MAC with a 16-3 record on the year.
The Ball State softball team will have a couple days to rest now, as it returns to action Wednesday with a 4 p.m. first pitch versus Indiana at the BSU Softball Complex.
GAME 1 RECAP: Ball State 9 - Miami 6
OXFORD, Ohio - The Ball State softball team belted four home runs off the league's leading pitcher to earn a 9-6 win over Miami in the first game of a Sunday doubleheader at the MU Softball Stadium.
Gilbert led the Cardinals' sluggers with a pair of home runs in the game, while increasing her league-leading double total to 16 as she went 3-for-4 from the plate in the game. She also drove in three runs, while scoring three times.
Bickel and Montalto also blasted home runs in the contest to help BSU secure the win.
After going down in order in the first, the Cardinals used a pair of hits in the second to post the first run of the game. Sophomore first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern ) opened the inning with a single to left and advanced to second on a Miami error. After a groundout pushed Rager to third, junior center fielder Amanda Carpenter (Santee, Calif./Santana) sliced a single off the RedHawks pitcher's leg and into center field to score the first run.
Miami retaliated with three runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 3-1 edge. The RedHawks rally started with a Shanyn McIntyre single followed by a sacrifice bunt to move the runner. A RBI single from Casey Drees tied the score, while an Allie Larrabee single to put runners at first and second. Kayla Ledbetter followed with a RBI double, while a Kylie McChesney RBI single moved the score to 3-1.
The Cardinals would not stay down for long, as a leadoff two-strike bunt single from senior shortstop Alison Mercado (Perris, Calif./Arizona Western College) sparked a three-run BSU rally. After a wild pitch advanced Mercado to second, freshman designated player Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan) tagged a RBI double to the center field wall. Gilbert followed with a two-run blast off the roof of Miami's batting cage facility in right field to give BSU a 4-3 advantage.
A leadoff double from Daniela Torres opened the bottom of the third, and she would advance to third base on the second of back-to-back groundouts. Drees followed the second out with her second RBI single in as many innings to tie the score at 4-4.
After a scoreless fourth, the Cardinals put a three-spot on the board in the top of the fifth to reclaim the lead. With one out, Gilbert smashed her MAC-leading 16th double of the season for BSU's first hit of the frame. Following BSU's second out, Rager dropped her second single into left field to bring home the go-ahead run. Bickel then lit up the scoreboard with her seventh home run of the season to give BSU a 7-4 lead.
Miami cut the Ball State lead to 7-5 in the bottom of the fifth thanks to Drees' third RBI single of the game.
After a scoreless sixth, the Cardinals capitalized on back-to-back home runs from Gilbert and Montalto to extend its lead to 9-5 in the top of the 7th.
Miami looked poised to rally in the bottom of the frame, using a leadoff double from McIntyre, a single from Jordan McElroy and a Ball State pass ball and throwing error to move the score to 9-6. A walk would put runners at first and second with no outs. After a strikeout, freshman second baseman Taylor Cox (Garden Grove, Calif./Pacifica) turned a hot shot to second into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Mazzapica picked up her 15th victory of the season (15-3) in the game, limiting the RedHawks to six runs (five earned) on 13 hits over seven innings of work. She also struck out four batters.
The Cardinals' knocked around the MAC's all-time wins leader Jessica Simpson in the contest, scoring nine runs (eight earned) on 11 hits to move her record to 16-11 on the year. Simpson would add nine strikeouts to up her league-leading strikeout count to 201 for the year.
GAME 2 RECAP: Ball State 13 - Miami 12
OXFORD, Ohio - - In a back-and-forth contest, the Ball State softball team used an RBI groundout from Bickel to drive in the game-winning run in a three-run seventh inning to complete a 13-12 come-from-behind victory over Miami in the nightcap of a Sunday doubleheader.
Ball State batters continued to punish the MAC's top pitching staff, pounding out 14 hits, including a home run and triple from Gilbert. Gilbert finished the game with three RBI and four runs scored after also drawing three walks.
Also collecting multiple hits in the game for BSU were Stuedemann (3-for-4, two runs scored), Montalto (2-for-4, two RBI, one run scored) and Carpenter (2-for-4, two RBI, one run scored). Rager had one hit in the game, and a pivotal sacrifice fly to drive in the game-tying run in the seventh.
The hits kept coming early in the second game, with Ball State scoring a pair of runs on four hits in the top of the first. After a leadoff single from Stuedemann, Gilbert's third triple of the season pushed the first run across the plate. Two batters later, a sacrifice fly from Rager gave BSU a brief 2-0 lead.
Miami also scored big in the first, posting four runs on four hits. With one out, a pair of Miami singles surrounding a walk loaded the bases with one out. A RBI fielder's choice with McElroy drove in the first run as BSU elected to force out the runner at third. Drees then collected her fourth RBI hit of the game, with a two-run double to left center. Larrabee followed with a double to the exact same location to bring home the inning's final run.
The RedHawks extended their lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the second with four two-out walks.
It was Ball State's turn to score in the top of the third, as it turned a pair of one-out walks into a four-run rally. With Gilbert and Montalto at second and first, respectively, a single to center field from Rager made the score 5-3. After a flyout to right for the innings' second out, a triple from Carpenter drove in two more BSU runs. Mercado followed with a RBI infield single to second to give BSU a 6-5 edge.
Gilbert struck again in the top of the fourth, blasting her third home run of the day off the Miami batting cage facility. The two-run blast also drove in Stuedemann who singled with one out.
Ball State extended its lead to 10-5 in the top of the fifth, starting with a two-out RBI double from junior catcher Sadie Robertson (Fenton, Mo./Rockwood Summit). Mercado scored on the play after reaching base on a fielder's choice. A single from Stuedemann and an intentional walk of Gilbert would load the bases for Montalto who sliced an RBI single through the right side.
Miami would draw within three runs, at 10-7, in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a leadoff homer from McIntyre and pinch runner Tiyona Marshall scoring from third on a two-out pickoff play rundown.
The RedHawks opened the bottom of the sixth inning with a double and a walk to bring on a BSU pitching change. After a single up the middle loaded the bases, a walk to Torres brought home the first of five Miami runs in the inning. An infield single from McIntyre brought in another run, while a McElroy RBI groundout to second tied the score. The final two runs crossed the plate on a Drees RBI single to the pitcher and a throwing error on the play.
Ball State responded in the top of the seventh starting with walks to Stuedemann and Gilbert. With pinch runner Hannah Zimmerman (Indianapolis, Ind./Scecina Memorial) taking over duties as a pinch runner at second for Stuedemann, a Montalto double to right center cut the Miami lead to 12-11 and put runners at second and third.
Following a Miami pitching change, in which game one starter Simpson was called from the pen, a sacrifice fly from Rager tied the score and moved Montalto to third on the throw home. Freshman Haley Smith (Baytown, Texas/Lee) would come in to pinch run at third and would score what proved to be the game-winning run when Bickel grounded out to second.
Mazzapica would then retire the final three Miami batters to complete the 13-12 Ball State victory.
In entering the game in relief in the sixth, Mazzapica would pick up her 16th victory of the season and improve to 16-3 for the year. In two innings of work, she allowed two earned runs on three hits.
Senior pitcher Audrey Workman (Wickenburg, Ariz./Yavapai College) threw the first five innings from the circle for BSU, allowing nine runs on six hits while striking out four batters.
Katie Osburn suffered the loss for the RedHawks, entering the game in the top of the fourth and allowing five runs on five hits over 2.2 innings of work.