SOUTHAVEN, Miss. - - Sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) blasted an eighth-inning walk-off two-run homer to lift Ball State softball to a 5-3 win over Murray State Saturday morning in the team’s opening game of the Blues City Classic at Greenbrook Park.
In addition to Dabkowski’s game-winning blast, senior right fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) belted her 58th career home run to take over sole possession of the league’s career home run record. The blast also put her alone atop the league’s run scored list at 168.
Overall, the Cardinals (5-2) finished the game with 10 hits, including a pair of doubles from senior first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern). Rager finished the game 3-for-3 and added a walk to lead Ball State offensively.
The Racers (7-3) opened the scoring in the first thanks to a RBI single from Leslie Bridges.
Ball State retaliated in the bottom of the inning with a one-out RBI single from Gilbert. Junior right fielder Loren Cihlar (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North) opened the game with a four-pitch walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Dabkowski. Gilbert followed by slicing the ball to right field to bring in BSU’s first run of the game.
Murray State added its second run of the game in the top of the third on a RBI single from Maggie Glass, only to have the Cardinals counter with Gilbert’s record-breaking blast to lead off the bottom of the frame.
The Cardinals took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fourth on a two-out RBI single from Cihlar. Freshman catcher Shelbie Scamihorn (Terra Haute, Ind./South Vigo) opened the inning with a walk, while freshman pinch runner Amanda Arnett (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) advanced two bases on back-to-back groundouts. Cihlar then game through with a RBI single down the left field line.
Murray State got the run back in the top of the sixth as a lead-off triple from Glass and a two-out double from Cayla Levins tied the score at 3-3.
Ball State looked poised to reclaim the lead in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with one out, but could not push a run across. The Cardinals would also load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, only to be stopped by the Racers defense once again.
However, there would be no denying the Ball State victory, as Dabkowski blasted a one-out, no-doubter over the left-center field wall in the bottom of the eighth to end the game. Sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Union) also scored on the play after being placed on second due to the international tiebreaker.
Sophomore Nicole Steinbach (Merillville, Ind./Andrean) earned the pitching victory in the game, holding Murray State without a base runner over the final two innings as she entered in relief. In improving to 2-2 on the year, Steinbach also logged a strikeout.
Sophomore Kelsey Schifferdecker (Belton, Mo./Belton) started the game for the Cardinals, limiting the Racers to 11 hits and three earned runs over six innings of work. She also struck out three batters while not issuing a walk.
CheyAnne Gaskey went the distance for Murray State, allowing 10 hits and five runs (four earned) over 7.1 innings of work.
The Ball State softball team returns to action later this afternoon with a schedule 4 pm ET/3 pm CT first pitch versus Morehead State.