SPARTANBURG, S.C. - The Ball State softball team (4-1) split its games in the opening day of the Buffalo Wild Wings Spartan Invitational. Ball State scored six runs off 12 hits including three hits from Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind. / Andrean).
The Cardinals opened the tournament dropping a tough 5-4 contest to Virginia Tech before picking up a 2-0 victory against George Mason.
Ball State picked up its win on the day after a late-inning rally started by Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind. / Hamilton Southeastern). Rager hit a deep triple to right field to bring in Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas / McKinney). On the next play, Bickel would single to the same spot bringing in Rager to give the Cardinals the 2-0 lead.
With Gilbert’s two runs scored on the day, she ties the record for the most career runs scored in MAC history with 167 runs. Gilbert is tied with former Ball State Cardinal Lisa Rozanski.
Six different Cardinals record at least one hit led by Bickel’s three-hit effort in six at bats. Bickel had three RBI on the day while Rager tallied two.
Defensively, Rager led Ball State with 10 putouts while Emily Dobkowski (Plainfield, Ind. / South Putnam) tallied 12 outs on the day with eight putouts and four assists.
GAME 1 RECAP: VIRGINIA TECH 5, BALL STATE 4
Loren Cihlar (St. Charles, Ill. / St. Charles North) started off the game with a single and then stole second. Dabkowski would reach on a fielding error bringing up Gilbert who doubled down the right field line. Bickel kept the bats hot as she hit a single up the middle and advanced to second on an error, bringing home Gilbert and Dabkowski. Hanne Studemann (Mattawan, Mich. / Mattawan) was hit by a pitch to get on base and then Bickel and Studemann advanced bases on an illegal pitch.
The Hokies got on the board in the bottom of the first after Amanda Ake singled up the middle to bring home Lauren Gaskill.
Virginia Tech would take the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the third inning when Elizabeth Birle hit a deep single to center field that brought home two runners. Birle stepped up to bat with the bases loaded after Katey Smith reached on an error.
The score would remain in Virginia Tech’s favor until the top of the fifth inning. Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla. / Union) bunted to get on first and then stole a base as Cihlar was at bat. After Cihlar grounded out Evans advanced to third. Dabkowski came up next and would single through the left side to bring Evans home and tie the score at 3-3. Rager would single to center field bringing home Dabkowski to give Ball State a 4-3 lead.
Virginia Tech would rally back in bottom of the seventh inning. Kylie McGoldrick singled to right center and then Vanessa Gonzalez popped into a double play. Amanda Ake would tie the game with a homer to left field and Katey Smith would seal the win for the Hokies after going yard to center field.
Nicole Steinbach (Merrillville, Ind. / Andrean)got the loss for Ball State in seven innings of work. Steinbach struck out three, walked seven and allowed three earned runs. Virginia Tech’s Kelly Heinz came in and picked up the win with three strike outs, no hits and one walk.
GAME 2 RECAP: BALL STATE 2, GEORGE MASON 0
The Patriots started off the game with two hits in the top of the first inning when Casey Price singled up the middle and Brooke Blakenship doubled to left center. The next batter Sarah Solano would get walked to load the bases, but George Mason was not able to capitalize on it, stranding all three runners.
The game would not see another run until the bottom of the third when Dobkowski singled to third base. Dobkowski would be stranded on base. George Mason would connect on hits in the top of the fourth and top of the sixth but were not able to generate runs.
The Cardinals got the bats going in the bottom of the sixth inning scoring two runs. Gilbert was walked and Rager hit a deep triple to right field to bring in Gilbert. On the next play, Bickel would single to the same spot bringing in Rager to give the Cardinals the 2-0 lead.
Kelsey Schifferdecker (Belton, Mo. / Belton) picked up her third win of the season while George Mason’s Anna Blessing was credited with the loss. Blessing struck out eight hitters while Schifferdecker walked one and struck out two.
The softball team closes out play in the Buffalo Wild Wings Spartan Invitational Monday afternoon with a 2 p.m. game versus host USC Upstate.