LOUISVILLE, Ky. - - Despite another strong offensive showing, the Ball State (11-10) softball team opened play in the Louisville Classic with an 8-7, eight-inning setback to Wisconsin (21-3) Saturday morning at Ulmer Stadium.
The Cardinals tallied 13 hits in the contest, including home runs from both junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert and sophomore right fielder Hanne Stuedemann. Both Gilbert and Stuedemann finished the game 2-for-4 with a walk.
The Badgers, who received votes in the latest ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll recorded just 10 hits in the game, including two home runs of their own.
Ball State opened the scoring in the bottom of the first on a two-out RBI bases loaded walk to junior third baseman Audrey Bickel, which allowed Gilbert, who reached base via a walk, to score. Two pitches later, a wild pitch brought in junior first baseman Taylor Rager who reached base on a fielder's choice.
Wisconsin would cut the lead in half in the top of the third on a RBI sacrifice bunt from Whitney Massey.
Ball State retaliated in the bottom of the inning with a first-pitch leadoff home run from Gilbert, her eighth long ball of the season and 41st of her career.
Trailing 3-1, the Badgers recorded a first-pitch home run of their own in the top of the fourth, and went on to tie the score four batters later on a RBI single from Mary Massei.
Stuedemann would break the tie in the bottom of the frame with a two-out, two-run bomb over the right field wall. It was Stuedemann's fifth home run in the last seven games. Cox started the mini rally with a two-out bunt single to third.
The score remained 5-3 in favor of the Cardinals until the top of the sixth when a two-out double steal saw Kendall Grimm score from third on the throw to second.
Ball State would put runners at second and third with no outs in the bottom of the frame, but an untimely line drive to third ended in a double play and helped Wisconsin escape the inning unharmed.
The Badgers would claim their first lead of the game in the top of the seventh on a two-run home run from Shannel Blackshear.
Ball State would start the seventh strong, with a leadoff single by Carpenter, followed by a walk to Bickel. Senior catcher Sadie Robertson would then drop a sacrifice bunt, but a throwing error on the play allowed Carpenter to score from second and put runners at the corners. Unfortunately, BSU could not push across the winning run as a strikeout, fielder choice at home and groundout sent the game to extra innings.
Wisconsin would capitalize on the international tiebreaker which put a runner at second with a leadoff RBI double from Massei to pull ahead 7-6. Two batters later, a Massey single to center made the score 8-6.
With runners at second and third and one out, Rager would single up the middle to bring BSU within one at 8-7. Unfortunately, another sharp liner to the pitcher resulted in a game-ending double play as a BSU pinch runner was also thrown out at first.
Nicole Steinbach (4-7) would suffer the pitching loss for the Cardinals, allowing three runs (two earned) over the final 2.0 innings. She would also strikeout a batter.
Audra Sanders started the game in the circle for BSU, yielding three runs (two earned) and five hits over 4.0 innings, while posting a pair of strikeouts. Kelsey Schifferdecker also threw two innings, allowing just one hit and two earned runs.
Cassandra Darrah went the distance in the circle for Wisconsin, surrendering 13 hits and seven runs (five earned) over eight innings. She logged five strikeouts and walked five batters.
The Ball State softball team returns to action later this afternoon with a scheduled 3 p.m. first pitch versus No. 24 North Carolina.