MUNCIE, Ind. - - Ball State softball’s first five batters crossed the plate before the first out as the Cardinals rolled to a 13-0 (5 inn.) win over Western Michigan in Mid-American Conference action Saturday afternoon at the BSU Softball Complex.
With the victory, the Cardinals remain the lone undefeated team in league play at 7-0 and improve to 22-11 on the year. The Broncos fall to 11-19 (2-3 MAC) with the loss.
In the win, junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert became the program’s all-time leader in career RBI, collecting the 154th of her career with a two-out, run-scoring single in the bottom of the fourth. Gilbert finished the day 2-for-3 with one RBI, two runs scored and a walk.
Senior center fielder Amanda Carpenter would drive in a team-high four RBI, with a 2-for-3 day of her own. She blasted a three-run home run in the top of the first inning, while adding her MAC-leading 14th double of the season in the third to plate another run. Carpenter’s 47 career doubles rank second in program history, while her 138 career RBI are third.
Overall, the Cardinals pounded out 10 hits in the game, including three home runs and three doubles.
Not lost among Ball State’s offensive barrage was the pitching performance turned in by freshman hurler Nicole Steinbach who collected her MAC-leading fourth complete game shutout win of the season. Over five innings of work, Steinbach limited the Broncos to just two hits and one walk while striking out four batters.
After holding the Broncos off the board in the top of the first, BSU sophomore second baseman Taylor Cox reached on an error to open the bottom of the frame. Walks to sophomore right fielder Hanne Stuedemann and Gilbert followed to load the bases for junior first baseman Taylor Rager.
Rager, who went 1-for-2 on the day with a pair of walks, answered the call with a laser shot up the middle to drive in the game’s first two runs. Carpenter would follow with her three-run blast to make the score 5-0. Following BSU’s first out of the inning, Robertson would tally her third home run of the season to make the score 6-0.
Ball State extended its lead to 10-0 by scoring four more runs in the bottom of the second. Gilbert led off the inning with a single, while a Rager and Carpenter reached base on a walk and fielder’s choice respectively. A WMU error on the Carpenter grounder allowed Gilbert to advance to third to load the bases.
Junior third baseman Audrey Bickel would capitalize on the WMU miscue with a sacrifice fly that just missed being a home run to left field to bring home Gilbert. Reyna followed with a two-run double to left field to make the score 9-0. Sophomore designated player Loren Cihlar drove in the final run of the inning on a RBI fielder’s choice.
Following a leadoff walk to Rager in the bottom of the third, Carpenter’s RBI double made the score 11-0 as freshman pinch runner Briana Evans crossed the plate.
Reyna would lead off the bottom of the fourth with her second career home run, while Gilbert’s RBI single to right drove in the game’s final run. Sophomore pinch hitter Jessica Craft scored on the play after recording a one-out double.
Becca Shemberger suffered the pitching loss for Western Michigan, falling to 6-9 on the year, as she failed to retire a batter in a starting appearance. She faced five batters and allowed two hits, five runs (four earned) and two walks.
The Ball State softball team closes its two-game series versus Western Michigan Sunday afternoon with a scheduled 1 p.m. first pitch at the BSU Softball Complex.