FORT WAYNE, Ind. - - The Ball State (19-11) softball team split a Wednesday afternoon doubleheader at IPFW (13-7), taking the first game by a score of 3-1 before losing the nightcap 3-1.
Junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert turned in another strong offensive outing in the twin bill, going 3-for-4 over the two games and drawing four walks. She scored one run on the day and raised her Mid-American Conference-leading batting average to .495.
In addition to Gilbert, both sophomore designated player/right fielder Loren Cihlar and junior first baseman Taylor Rager added three hits on the day. Cihlar went 3-for-6 over the two games, while Rager was 3-for-7 and also drew a walk.
Perhaps the biggest hit of the day came off the bat of pinch hitter Lauren Schroeder in the opener when she laced a two-out, two-run single up the middle to drive in what proved to be the game-winning run in the contest.
In the opening game, redshirt junior Audra Sanders earned her third consecutive victory to improve to 6-2 in the circle this season by limiting the Mastodons to just two hits and no runs over 6.0 innings of work. She also struck out five batters while issuing just one walk.
Freshman pitcher Nicole Steinbach was also credited with her third save of the season in the game, by holding the Mastodons to no hits and one run over the final inning.
The Ball State softball team returns to action Friday, when it finally opens its 2013 home schedule by hosting Northern Illinois for a 1 p.m. MAC doubleheader at the BSU Softball Complex.
GAME 1 RECAP: Ball State 3 – IPFW 1
With two of the nation’s top offenses squaring off at the IPFW Softball Field in 19th-ranked Ball State (.324) and 23rd-ranked IPFW (.322), no one would have thought going into Wednesday’s doubleheader that pitching would be the top story. However, the teams found themselves in a pitcher’s duel early on in the opening contest.
Sanders kept the IPFW offense at bay for the first six innings, limiting the hosts to just two hits and one walk.
Ball State was able to capitalize on her effort in the top of the fourth thanks to a two-out rally. Senior catcher Sadie Robertson sparked the Cardinals with a two-out single to center field, while freshman shortstop Selena Reyna was hit by a pitch to put a pair of runners on.
After Cihlar recorded an infield single to load the bases, Schroeder sliced a 0-2 pitch up the middle to plate junior pinch runner Julie Cortez and Reyna.
The Cardinals maintained the 2-0 lead until the top of the seventh when they added an insurance run on a two-out RBI infield single from Rager. Sophomore second baseman Taylor Cox scored on the play after a nine-pitch infield single of her own.
IPFW’s Dani Pugh opened the bottom of the seventh with a walk, and advanced to second on a groundout and to third on a wild pitch. Another infield groundout from Audrey Mintari would bring her home making the score 3-1, but Steinbach answered by striking out the game’s final batter swinging.
Despite limiting the Ball State offense to just six hits and three runs, Miranda Kramer picked up the loss for the Mastodons to fall to 7-4 on the year. She would also strikeout nine batters while issuing four walks, including three to Gilbert.
GAME 2 RECAP: IPFW 3 – Ball State 1
The strong pitching performances carried over into the second game, with another pitcher’s duel in the works.
IPFW would tally the game’s first run thanks to a two-out solo home run from Hilary Kartman in the bottom of the second inning.
The Mastodons scored two more runs in the bottom of the fifth, extending their advantage to 3-0 in the contest. After Kartman drew a walk to open the inning, back-to-back two-out RBI singles from Larissa Franklin and Kayti Hanson gave the hosts a pair of pivotal runs.
The Cardinals tried to rally in the top of the sixth, as Gilbert led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a Rager infield single. A third consecutive hit from Carpenter drove in BSU’s lone run of the game. Ball State would eventually strand runners at second and third to end the inning and their comeback threat.
Ball State would put runners at first and second with two outs in the seventh inning, on a Cihlar infield single and a walk to Gilbert, but a groundout to second ended the game.
Megan Flenniken picked up the win for the IPFW, improving to 5-3 on the year after yielding just seven hits and one earned run. She also struck out eight BSU batters while issuing just two walks.
Freshman Kelsey Schifferdecker suffered the loss in the circle for Ball State, falling to 6-2 on the year despite limiting the Mastodons to six hits and three earned runs over 4.2 innings of work. She would strikeout three batters.