SOUTHAVEN, Miss. - - After a slow start, the Ball State offense exploded for five third inning runs and never looked back in a dominating 11-2, six-inning win over Southeast Missouri State Sunday morning in its final game of the Blues City Classic at Greenbrook Park in Southaven, Miss.
In all, 11 different Cardinals (7-2) recorded at least one hit in the game, with senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) leading the way by going 3-for-4, with a triple, three runs scored and a pair of RBI.
After recording her first career save in the circle yesterday, sophomore Sammi Cowger (Fenton, Mich./Fenton) closed the game with a pinch hit double to center, driving in Ball State’s final two runs and capping the run rule at 11-2.
Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Schifferdecker (Belton, Mo./Belton) turned in a solid performance in the circle for the Cardinals, improving to 4-0 on the year by limiting the Redhawks(4-4) to two runs and seven hits over 5.0 innings. Schifferdecker also struck out three batters.
Freshman Jocelyn Rivera (Brooklyn, Ohio/Brooklyn) threw the final inning for the Cardinals, holding SEMO to just one hit, while also collecting a strikeout.
The Redhawks posted the game’s first run in the top of the second after a leadoff walk, back-to-back sacrifice bunts and a RBI bloop single by Nicole Deering.
With one out in the bottom of the third, the Cardinals bats found their grove in a rally started by a short single from sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Tulsa). After Evans stole second, junior right fielder Loren Cihlar (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North) followed with a single up the middle and a stolen base of her own. Sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) took advantage of the two runners in scoring position by blasting a two-run single to left to drive in the Cardinals first two runs.
With Dabkowski at second, Gilbert connected for a RBI single to right center pushing home BSU’s third run of the game. Senior first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) followed with a single to center and moved to second on the throw in to third. With Gilbert at third and freshman pinch runner Taylor Cooley (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) at second, senior third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) smashed a single to right field to drive in BSU’s final two runs of the inning and push the score to 5-1.
The Cardinals added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth, extending its lead to 7-1. Cihlar walked to open the frame and then recorded her second steal of the game. Dabkowski once again took advantage of the runner in scoring position with a RBI single to right. Gilbert followed with a single to right center and stole second to put a pair of runners in scoring position. Gilbert would eventually score the final run of the inning on a fielders’ choice from Bickel who drew a throw from the catcher which allowed the run to sneak home.
SEMO tallied its second and final run of the game in the top of the fifth, thanks to a sacrifice fly from Jamie Woodworth.
After being held scoreless in the bottom of the fifth, the Cardinals tacked on four runs in the bottom of the sixth to complete the run rule and end the game. Dabkowski started the inning with a walk and crossed the plate on a RBI triple from Gilbert. Freshman first baseman Hayley Cruthers (Swartz Creek, Mich./Swartz Creek) followed with her first career hit and RBI, bringing in Gilbert with a single to center.
After senior pinch hitter Lauren Schroeder (Greenfield, Ind./New Palestine) singled through the left side, Cowger came up with her pinch hit double to center to drive in two and end the game.
SEMO’s Aubrey Denno suffered the loss in the circle, falling to 2-1 on the year after allowing five runs and six hits over 2.1 innings of work.
The Ball State softball team returns to action Friday, when it opens play in the Louisville Slugger Invitational hosted by Arizona State with games versus South Carolina (4:30 pm ET/2:30 pm MT) and FIU (6:45 pm ET/4:45 pm MT).
The Cardinals cap the three-day tournament with a Sunday showdown versus No. 4 Arizona State, which is coached by former Ball State head coach Craig Nicholson.