TOLEDO, Ohio - - Junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert blasted four home runs to help lift the Ball State softball team to a doubleheader sweep of Toledo by scores of 14-5 and 10-7 Saturday afternoon at Scott Park.
With the pair of wins, Ball State extends its current winning streak to seven games and improves to 18-10 on the year. The Cardinals also remain perfect in Mid-American Conference play at 4-0. The Rockets drop to 5-19 (0-4 MAC) with the two losses.
Gilbert finished the day 6-for-8 with four home runs, a double, seven RBI, six runs scored, an intentional walk and a 2.375 slugging percentage. With her four home runs, Gilbert raised her season total to 12 and her BSU career record total to 45. The 45 career home runs also rank third in Mid-American Conference history.
As a team, the Cardinals tallied 27 total hits over the two games, including six doubles, five home runs and a triple.
Senior center fielder Amanda Carpenter and sophomore right fielder/designated player Hanne Stuedemann hit .571 over the two games, going 4-for-7 each. Stuedemann scored five of the Cardinals’ 24 runs over the two games, added three RBI and a pair of walks. Carpenter tallied her 13th double of the season and scored twice while driving in two more.
BSU’s fifth home run of the day came off the bat of junior first baseman Taylor Rager in the first game victory. Rager finished the day 4-for-8 and added a double, four RBI, two runs scored and a walk.
With the effort, Rager raised her season batting average to .407, giving the Cardinals two batters over .400 this season, with Gilbert leading the MAC at .484.
Junior third baseman Audrey Bickel would also provide a pair of critical doubles in the second game, driving in five of BSU’s eight runs in the final two innings, including what proved to be the game-winning runs with two outs in the top of the seventh.
The Ball State softball team returns to action Wednesday, when it travels to IPFW for a 3 p.m. first pitch versus the Mastodons.
GAME 1 RECAP: Ball State 14 – Toledo 5
With two outs in the top of the first inning, Gilbert started what turned out to be one of her best outings of the season with a solo shot deep over the center field wall to give Ball State an early 1-0 lead in the contest.
Toledo answered with a solo home run of its own in the bottom of the frame to even the score at 1-1.
The Cardinals reclaimed the lead in the top of the third inning, scoring three runs to pull ahead 4-1. With one out, sophomore second baseman Taylor Cox reached base on an error and advanced to second when Stuedemann singled through the right side. Gilbert would follow with a RBI single to center field to bring home the inning’s first run.
With runners at second and third after Gilbert advanced on the throw home on her single, Rager tallied a RBI groundout to advance both runners. Carpenter would follow with a double to center field to bring home Gilbert from third.
Ball State extended its lead to 6-1 in the top of the fourth inning on a two-run single from Stuedemann which plated both freshman shortstop Selena Reyna who doubled and sophomore designated player Loren Cihlar who reached base on an error and stole second.
The Cardinals tacked on a seventh run in the top of the fifth after Rager doubled to open the inning and junior pinch runner Julie Cortez came around to score on an error by the Toledo shortstop.
Toledo would get the run back in the bottom of the fifth, only to see Ball State post three runs in the top of the sixth to pull ahead 10-2. With two outs, Stuedemann drew a walk to set up a two-run blast from Gilbert for her second home run of the game. Rager followed with a solo shot to cap the scoring in the inning for the Cardinals.
Toledo would keep the game alive with a run in the bottom of the sixth, making the score 10-3, only to see Ball State tack on four more runs in the top of the seventh.
Reyna opened the seventh with a single, while Cihlar drew a walk to put two runners on for Cox who tallied a triple over the Toledo right fielder’s head to bring home the first two runs. Stuedemann drove in Cox with a single through the right side, while Gilbert followed with a double to put runners at second and third. Rager then singled down the right field line to drive in BSU’s final run of the game.
Toledo would close out the game with two runs in the bottom of the seventh to make the game’s final score 14-5.
Freshman pitcher Nicole Steinbach picked up the win in the circle for Ball State, improving to 7-7 as she held the Rockets to eight hits and five runs (four earned) over 7.0 innings of work. She would also strike out five batters.
Marla Gooding suffered the loss for Toledo, falling to 1-7 by surrendering 12 hits and 11 runs (seven earned) over 4.2 innings of work. Gooding started the game and was relieved for an inning-and-a-half before coming back into the game.
GAME 2 RECAP: Ball State 10 – Toledo 7
After a scoreless first inning, Toledo took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning thanks in part to a BSU error.
After a rough outing in the first game, Toledo’s Gooding started strong in the second game by retiring the first 10 batters she faced. However, a single from Stuedemann set up a game-tying two-run blast from Gilbert in the top of the fourth inning.
Toledo would pull back ahead by a score of 4-2 with single runs in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Toledo’s Gooding looked poised to escape the sixth inning without any damage, quickly retiring BSU’s first two batters, but Gilbert would step into the box next and blast her fourth home run of the game over the left field wall to spark another BSU rally.
Rager followed with a single, while freshman pinch runner Briana Evans reached third on a single to right field from Carpenter. In a close call at third, Evans slid under the Toledo tag to put runners at the corners and avoid the inning’s third out. Bickel would follow with a two-run double to center field to help Ball State take its first lead of the game at 5-4.
The Cardinals would then tack on five two-out runs in the top of the seventh inning to take control of the game. Cox singled to start the rally, while both Stuedemann and Gilbert drew walks to load the bases, with Gilbert’s walk being intentional. Rager would then draw a third consecutive walk to bring in the first run of the inning.
Following a Toledo pitching change, Carpenter was hit by a pitch to bring in another run. Bickel would follow with what proved to be a very important hit, as she doubled off the center field wall to clear the bases and bring home three more runs, making the score 10-4.
With one out, Toledo would use back-to-back singles and a three-run home run to cut the Ball State lead in half at 10-7. But Bickel’s base-clearing knock stood strong in the end, as BSU redshirt junior pitcher Audra Sanders forced the next two batters to fly out.
In picking up her second relief victory of the weekend, Sanders improved to 5-2 on the year by limiting the Rockets to three hits and three runs over the final three innings. She would also strikeout a pair of batters.
Freshman Kelsey Schifferdecker threw the first four innings for Ball State, holding Toledo to nine hits and four runs (three earned).
Gooding suffered her second pitching loss of the day for the Rockets in the circle by allowing the Cardinals to score nine runs on eight hits over 6.2 innings. She would also strikeout four batters and issue three walks.