MUNCIE, Ind. - - For her efforts in helping the Ball State softball team secure the 2013 Mid-American Conference Regular Season Championship last weekend, freshman pitcher Nicole Steinbach (Merrillville, Ind. /Andrean H.S.) has been named the MAC West Division Pitcher of the Week.
A six-time recipient of the division’s top weekly pitching honor this season, Steinbach made two appearances in the circle last week to help the Cardinals finish league play with a 18-3 MAC record and also earn the top seed in this week’s 2013 MAC Softball Tournament at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio.
In her two outings, Steinbach threw 10 innings and posted a 1.40 ERA by allowing just two earned runs. She struck out nine of the 38 batters she faced, while issuing just one walk. In addition, she held opposing batters to a .194 average over her two appearances.
With the Cardinals needing a pair of Friday wins to secure their fourth MAC title in five seasons, Steinbach threw seven strong innings against Buffalo in game one of the day’s doubleheader. In helping Ball State pull out a 3-2 victory in the contest, Steinbach limited the Bulls to just five hits and one earned run. She would also collect six strikeouts in the game, while not issuing a single free pass.
In Sunday’s relief appearance versus Kent State, Steinbach entered the game with no outs and bases loaded in the top of the fifth inning. She would go on to strikeout the first two batters she faced before inducing an inning-ending groundout to help keep the Cardinals in the game. She finished the game with four strikeouts over three innings of work.
The Ball State softball team leads the Mid-American Conference with eight MAC West Division Player of the Week selections and seven MAC West Division Pitcher of the Week honors this season. Junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert has earned the division’s player of the week nod four times this season, while Steinbach is now a six-time pitcher of the week honoree.
Overall, the Cardinals have had at least one MAC weekly award winner in 10 of its 12 weeks of play this season, while sweeping the award five times; Feb. 19, March 19, March 25, April 1 and April 15. Gilbert and Steinbach have combined for three of the sweeps; Feb. 19, April 1 and April 15.
The No. 1 seed Ball State softball team opens play in the 2013 Mid-American Conference Tournament Thursday with a 5 p.m. contest versus either No. 4 Northern Illinois or the winner of No. 5 Miami vs. No. 8 Toledo.