ATHENS, Ohio - - Ball State softball’s defense came up with a huge game-ending double play to help the Cardinals remain perfect in league play with a 9-7 win over Ohio Saturday afternoon at the Ohio Softball Field.
Trailing 9-5 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Bobcats used a pair of solo home runs to cut the BSU lead to 9-7 and put another runner on first with one out. However, Ball State freshman pitcher Nicole Steinbach forced one of the league’s top home run hitters in Caitlin Colvin to ground into a game-ending double play.
With the win, the Cardinals improve to 27-11 on the season, but more importantly, remain undefeated in Mid-American Conference action at 11-0. The Bobcats fall to 19-19 (4-7 MAC) with their sixth consecutive loss.
Overall, the Ball State defense came up with a pair of double plays in the game to raise its MAC-leading total to 24 on the season.
On offense, junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert continued to add to both her home run and RBI totals with what turned out to be a game-winning, three-run home run in the top of the sixth inning. With her 19th blast of the season, Gilbert broke her own Ball State single season record, while tying the MAC single season mark set by Akron’s Kelli Metzger in 1999. Gilbert finished the game 1-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and three RBI.
Freshman shortstop Selena Reyna also had a big day for the Cardinals, smashing a three-run double in the third inning while starting the game-winning double play.
As a whole, nine different players recorded a hit for the Cardinals in the game, including a one-run double that bounced off the top of the center field wall for senior catcher Sadie Robertson.
Ball State capitalized on four walks in the first inning to pull out to an early 2-0 edge. With sophomore right fielder Hanne Stuedemann on first after a fielder’s choice, walks to Gilbert and senior center fielder Amanda Carpenter loaded the bases with two outs. Junior third baseman Audrey Bickel and Robertson would follow with RBI walks to give BSU the lead.
Ohio tied the score in the top of the second on a leadoff home run by Adrienne Gebele which was followed later in the inning by a RBI single from Alyssa Wolfe.
Ball State countered with a three-run third thanks to the bat of Reyna. After the first two batters of the inning were retired, singles from Carpenter and Bickel kept the frame alive. Robertson would then draw a seven-pitch walk to load the bases. Reyna made the most of her at-bat, smashing a bases-clearing double to the center field wall.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Ball State’s Robertson would just miss her second home run of the weekend by bouncing a RBI double off the top of the center field wall. Junior pinch runner Julie Cortez scored on the play after replacing Bickel who drew a two-out walk.
Gilbert’s three-run blast in the top of the sixth gave the Cardinals a 9-2 advantage after five-and-a-half innings. One-out singles from junior pinch runner Lauren Schroeder and Stuedemann set up Gilbert’s sixth home run of the week.
The Bobcats would not go down quietly, however, as pinch hitter DJ Engelman launched a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 9-5.
Solo home runs by Ohio’s Kaylin Clarke and Chelsea Hortman in the bottom of the seventh move the score to 9-7 with one out, while an infield single brought the tying run to the plate in Colvin who entered the day with 15 home runs this season. However, Steinbach would force the OU slugger to ground into her second double play of the day to end the game.
In picking up her 12th pitching win of the season, Steinbach (12-7) surrendered 10 hits and seven runs to the Bobcats while striking out four batters.
Lauren McClary suffered the pitching loss for Ohio, falling to 8-10 on the season after surrendering four this and five earned runs over the first three innings. She also issued five walks in the contest.
Ball State and Ohio will close their two-game series Sunday afternoon with a 1 p.m. first pitch at the Ohio Softball Field.