LOUISVILLE, Ky. - - The Ball State (13-10) softball team ended play in the Louisville Classic with a 7-5 win over Iowa (17-7) Monday afternoon at Ulmer Stadium.
In the victory, the Cardinals turned in another solid all-around performance by scoring seven runs on 10 hits against a Hawkeyes team which received votes in both the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll and the USA Today/NFCA Division I Poll last week.
Sophomore second baseman Taylor Cox and junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert each tallied three hits in the game, with Cox going 3-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI. Gilbert finished the game 3-for-4 with one run scored.
Sophomore catcher Jessica Craft also turned in a solid performance in just her third career game behind the plate, finishing the game 1-for-2 with two walks, two RBI and a run scored.
Freshman pitcher Kelsey Schifferdecker earned the win in the circle for the Cardinals, limiting Iowa to just five hits and four runs (three earned) over 4.1 innings of work. She also struck out two batters on her way to improving to 6-1 on the season.
Classmate Nicole Steinbach earned her second career save in the game, by holding the Hawkeyes to just one hit and one unearned run over the final 2.2 innings. She also struck out two batters in the contest.
The Cardinals tallied the game's first run in the bottom of the second inning after junior third baseman Audrey Bickel drew a walk and came around to score on a RBI double to the center field wall from Craft.
Iowa responded with three runs in the top of the third, pulling ahead 3-1. Two of the runs came on a RBI single from Megan Blank, while a Kayla Massey double drove in the third.
Ball State retaliated with three runs of its own in the bottom of the frame to reclaim the lead at 4-3. After singles from Cox and Gilbert, junior first baseman Taylor Rager drew a walk to load the bases. Senior center fielder Amanda Carpenter would follow with a RBI infield single to bring home Cox for BSU's first run of the frame.
Bickel then reached base on a fielder's choice to drive in Gilbert, while a fielding error by the Iowa third baseman allowed junior pinch runner Julie Cortez to reach third. Ball State was then able to capitalize on the error as Cortez crossed the plate on a RBI walk from Craft.
After holding Iowa off the board in the top of the fourth, Ball State extended its lead to 5-3 thanks to singles from Cox, Gilbert and Rager.
Iowa would cut the lead to 5-4 in the top of the fifth thanks in part to a two-out BSU fielding error which allowed a runner to score from second.
The Cardinals pushed their lead back to two runs, at 6-4, in the bottom half of the inning as Craft drew her second walk to open the frame and came around to score on Cox's third single of the game.
The Hawkeyes once again capitalized on a BSU error in the top of the sixth as Ashley Akers reached base on a leadoff error and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch, making the score 6-5.
Ball State answered the run again in the bottom of the sixth, as Bickel smashed a single past the Iowa first baseman to bring home Rager from third.
Steinbach would then retire the side in order in the top of the seventh, including a strikeout of the first batter, to complete the Ball State victory.
Chelsea Lyon suffered the loss in the circle for Iowa, falling to 8-3 after allowing 10 hits and seven runs (six earned) over 6.0 innings of work. She also walked six batters, while striking out four.
The Ball State softball team was scheduled to open the home portion of its 2013 slate Tuesday against Butler, but the winter weather which moved through the Muncie area Monday morning has forced the cancellation of the game. A makeup game, if scheduled, will be announced at a later date.
The Cardinals will now return to action Friday, when they play both Marist (9 a.m. MT) and Colorado State (1:30 p.m. MT) on the opening day of the Colorado State Spring Tournament in Fort Collins, Colo.