SCHEDULE UPDATE: Due to rain forecasted for Easter Sunday, Ball State and Toledo will now play at doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. Saturday.
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - - The Ball State softball team opened Mid-American Conference play by sweeping preseason East Division favorite Bowling Green by scores of 4-1 and 3-1 in a Friday afternoon doubleheader at Meserve Field.
With the wins, the Cardinals improve to 16-10 (2-0 MAC) on the year, while the Falcons drop to 12-10 (0-2 MAC) with the losses.
The highlight of the day for the Cardinals came in the seventh inning of the second game with the score tied at 1-1. With the go ahead run at third and one out, sophomore pinch hitter Jessica Craft blasted a 3-1 pitch over the left field wall for her second career home run to put the Cardinals ahead for good.
Over the course of the day, the Cardinals pounded out 17 hits, including four doubles and Craft’s home run.
Senior center fielder Amanda Carpenter tallied two of BSU’s doubles and finished the day 2-for-6 with two runs scored and a RBI. With the two doubles, Carpenter raised her career total to 45 which is second in program history and 12 shy of the school record.
Junior third baseman Audrey Bickel led the Cardinals with a .600 (3-for-5) average on the day, while adding one walk and a pair of RBI.
Junior first baseman Taylor Rager also put together a solid day at the plate, going 4-for-7 and driving in a run.
In the circle, the Cardinals allowed just nine hits and one earned run over the day’s 14 innings.
Freshman Nicole Steinbach earned the win in the opener, limiting the Falcons to one hit and one unearned run over seven innings to improve to 6-7 on the year. Steinbach would also strike out six batters in the contest while not issuing a walk.
In the second game, redshirt junior Audra Sanders shut down the Falcons’ offense over the final 2.2 innings, allowing just one hit while striking out five of the 10 batters she faced to improve to 4-2 on the season.
Freshman Kelsey Schifferdecker threw the first 4.1 innings and limited BGSU to just one run and seven hits while adding a pair of Ks.
The Ball State softball team continues Mid-American Conference play Saturday, with a 2 p.m. doubleheader at Toledo.
Both games will be covered live on Sports Link Radio WCRD 91.3 FM and BallStateSports.com by play-by-play announcer Torey Fox.
GAME 1 RECAP: Ball State 4 – Bowling Green 1
The opener between the league’s two divisional favorites was a pitcher’s duel for the first five innings with neither team gaining traction on the other.
However, that all changed in the top of the sixth when the Cardinals finally broke onto the scoreboard with a pair of runs. With one out, singles from junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert and Rager put runners at first and second for Carpenter, who dropped an RBI double into left field to bring in the game’s first run. Bickel would follow with a RBI double of her own to give Ball State a 2-0 edge.
After Steinbach retired the side in order in the bottom of the frame, the Cardinals doubled their lead with two more runs in the top of the seventh.
A throwing error allowed leadoff pinch hitter Briana Evans to reach base, and Evans would then promptly steal second for her eighth swipe of the season. Two outs later, a single through the right side from sophomore right fielder Hanne Stuedemann drove in Evans from second to make the score 3-0.
Following a single from Gilbert which allowed sophomore pinch runner Craft to move to third, Rager smashed a single to left field to give BSU a 4-0 advantage.
Bowling Green would get its lone run of the game in the bottom of the seventh as a fielding error allowed Paige Berger to reach base as the leadoff batter and come around to score on an Adrienne Dick groundout to short.
The Cardinals handed BGSU sophomore pitcher Paris Imholz just her third loss of the season in the game, as she fell to 9-3. Imholz lasted 6.2 innings and yielded eight BSU hits and four runs, two of which were unearned. She would also strikeout five batters.
GAME 2 RECAP: Ball State 3 – Bowling Green 1
In another pitcher’s duel, it was the Falcons who would score first in the bottom of the third on a no-out RBI single from Berger. BGSU was poised to score more runs with no outs and runners at first and second, by a line drive snag by Rager at first led to an unassisted double play, while a fly out to center field ended the threat.
The Falcons’ Jamie Kertes continued to shut down the Ball State batters until the top of the seventh when Carpenter’s second double of the day sparked a three-run rally.
Following Carpenter’s double, Bickel sliced a 3-2 pitch through the right side to drive in the game-tying run with no outs. Junior pinch runner Julie Cortez would then advance to second on a first pitch wild pitch after game one starter Imholz reentered the game.
Following a groundout from senior catcher Sadie Robertson to advance the potential winning run to third, Craft launched her titanic blast over the left field wall to make the score 3-1.
Sanders would then shut down the Falcons in the bottom of the inning to lock down the win. Sanders struck out five of the first six batters she faced, including the first two she faced in the bottom of the fifth with one out and runners at first and second.
Despite a solid first six innings, Kertes suffered the loss in the game, allowing six hits and two runs over 6.0 innings of work. She would strikeout two BSU batters and issue a pair of walks.