YPSILANTI, Mich. - - Eastern Michigan scored four first inning runs and held on for a 6-4 victory over the Ball State softball team Saturday afternoon at Varsity Field in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Trailing 6-1 heading into the sixth inning, the Cardinals tallied three runs in the sixth inning, but could not get any closer as they suffered just their second Mid-American Conference loss of the season, falling to 32-14 (15-2 MAC).
The Eagles improve to 15-29-1 (5-12 MAC) after picking up their third consecutive win over a MAC title contender. EMU swept a doubleheader over Miami on Friday.
Despite the loss, the Cardinals still hold a three-game lead over Central Michigan in the MAC West Division, as CMU took out Miami 4-2 this afternoon to improve to 12-5 in league play. In the MAC East, Kent State holds the top spot in the division at 13-5 after taking both ends of a twin bill versus Buffalo.
After holding the Cardinals off the board in the top of the first, the Eagles took a page from the Ball State playbook in the bottom of the frame, striking for four quick runs on a two-out, two run double from Amanda Stanton which was followed by a two-run home run from Courtney Loe.
Ball State would get its first run of the game in the top of the fourth as junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert reached base on an error and eventually came around to score on another EMU miscue. The Cardinals would go on to have bases loaded and one out in the inning, but a strikeout and a groundout ended the BSU rally.
Unfortunately, the Eagles would answer with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame, extending their lead to 6-1. Nellie CoQuillard drove in the first with a one-out, bases loaded single, while a Stanton sacrifice fly in the next at bat plated the second EMU run of the inning.
Senior center fielder Amanda Carpenter would spark a Ball State rally in the top of the sixth with a one-out double off the left field wall. The double was her league-leading 18th of the season and leaves her one shy of the Ball State single-season record of 19 set by both Gilbert and Amanda Montalto last season.
Following the Cardinals’ second out of the inning, a RBI single to right field from senior catcher Sadie Robertson made the score 6-2. Sophomore pinch hitter Lauren Schroeder would follow with a double to center field which moved freshman pinch runner Sammi Cowger to third. Another pinch hit double, this time from sophomore Jessica Craft, would bring home the Cardinals’ final two runs of the game.
Jenna Ignowski picked up the pitching win for Eastern Michigan, improving to 9-7 on the year by limiting the Ball State offense to five hits and four runs (three earned) over 5.2 innings of work.
Lindsay Rich earned her first save of the season after halting the BSU rally in the bottom of the sixth by forcing a groundout and retiring three of the four BSU batters she faced in the seventh.
Freshman pitcher Kelsey Schifferdecker suffered the loss in the circle for Ball State, dropping to 12-4 on the year after yielding five hits and six runs in 3.1 innings of work. Senior Audra Sanders threw the final 2.2 innings for BSU, limiting the Eagles to just two hits while striking out four batters.
Ball State and Eastern Michigan will conclude their two-game series Sunday afternoon with a scheduled 1 p.m. first pitch at EMU’s Varsity Field.