MUNCIE, Ind. - - The Ball State softball team celebrated its first homestand of the 2013 season with a Mid-American Conference sweep of Northern Illinois Friday afternoon by scores of 5-3 and 9-2 at the BSU Softball Complex.
With the pair of wins, the Cardinals remain the only undefeated team in league play at 6-0. BSU’s overall record also improves to 21-11. The Huskies fall to 11-21 (1-3 MAC) with the losses.
Junior first baseman Taylor Rager provided a pair of highlight hits for the Ball State offense in the second game, tagging leadoff home runs in both the second and sixth innings. Rager, who finished the day 3-for-6 with a walk, two RBI and two runs scored, ranks third in program history with 21 career four-baggers.
Junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert added her 13th home run of the season in the bottom of the third inning in the second game, raising her career total to 46. She also collected four RBI on the day to raise her career RBI total to 153 which ties the program record set by Amanda Montalto (2009-12).
Senior center fielder Amanda Carpenter also tallied a home run in the second game, as her 18th career blast followed Rager’s first home run in the second inning.
Sophomore designated player/right fielder Loren Cihlar led BSU at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a triple, three RBI and a pair of runs scored. She also drew a walk.
In the circle, BSU’s freshman duo of Nicole Steinbach and Kelsey Schifferdecker combined to limit the Huskies to just 12 hits and four earned runs over the two games. Steinbach improved to 8-7 with the opening game win, while Schifferdecker climbed to 7-2 by taking the nightcap.
The Ball State softball team continues its opening homestand of the 2013 season tomorrow, when MAC West Division rival Western Michigan visits the BSU Softball Complex for a 2 p.m. first pitch.
GAME ONE RECAP: Ball State 5 – Northern Illinois 3
After holding the Huskies off the board in the top of the first, the Cardinals wasted little time taking the lead, as sophomore second baseman Taylor Cox blasted a leadoff double and came around to score on a two-out RBI single down the left field line from Carpenter.
NIU would get the run back in the top of the second thanks to a one-out solo shot from Erika Oswald. However, Ball State retaliated with three runs in the bottom of the frame to pull ahead 4-1.
With one out, freshman shortstop Selena Reyna doubled to left field while both Cihlar and Cox walked to load the bases. Following the Cardinals’ second out, Gilbert singled to center field to drive in the first two runs of the inning. Following a walk to Rager to load the bases again, a pass ball brought home BSU’s third run of the frame.
An RBI single from Amanda Sheppard would cut the BSU lead to 4-2 in the top of the third, but Steinbach would take control of the game from there, holding NIU scoreless over the next three innings.
Ball State posted its fifth and final run of the game in the bottom of the sixth thanks to Cihlar’s RBI triple which followed a Reyna single.
The Huskies’ final run came on a Bryanna Phelan RBI single with one out in the top of the seventh. However, the Cardinals would counter with their 21st double play of the season on a pop fly to second base by the next batter to end the game.
In picking up her eighth win of the season, Steinbach limited Northern Illinois to nine hits and three runs over 7.0 innings of work. She would also strikeout one batter while not issuing a walk.
Emily Norton suffered the loss for NIU, falling to 4-13 on the year after allowing six hits and five runs (four earned) over 6.0 innings. She struck out just one BSU batter while walking four.
GAME TWO RECAP: Ball State 9 – Northern Illinois 2
After a scoreless first inning to start the second game, back-to-back home runs from Rager and Carpenter gave BSU a 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the second inning.
Ball State doubled its lead to 4-0 after Gilbert’s two-out, two-run blast in the bottom of the third which also drove in Cihlar who singled up the middle to open the inning.
A two-run homer run from Jennifer Barnett cut the Ball State advantage to 4-2 in the top of the fourth, but the Cardinals retaliated with five no-out runs in the bottom of the sixth to put the game out of reach.
Rager opened the bottom of the sixth with her second leadoff home run of the inning, while Carpenter followed with a single up the middle. Following a walk to junior third baseman Audrey Bickel, freshman pinch hitter Emily Dabkowski just missed her first career home run by smacking a RBI double off the top of the wall in left field.
With Ball State leading 6-2 and runners at second and third, Reyna singled up the middle to plate freshman pinch runner Briana Evans. Cihlar would follow by dropping a two-run single into right field to give the game its final score of 9-2.
In picking up her second complete game win of the season, Schifferdecker limited the Huskies to just three hits and one earned run over 7.0 innings. She would also tally five strikeouts in the game while walking just two batters.
Jessica Sturm suffered the loss in the circle for NIU, falling to 7-8 by allowing four hits and four runs over 2.2 innings of work.