SOUTHAVEN, Miss. - - Ball State softball’s pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts to guide the team to a 7-1 victory over Morehead State Saturday afternoon to cap BSU’s first day at the Blues City Classic hosted by Memphis at Greenbrook Park in Southaven, Miss.
Sophomore hurler Nicole Steinbach (Merrillville, Ind./Andrean) led the way with nine strikeouts and picked up her second win of the day to improve to 3-2 on the year. Over 4.0 innings of work versus the Eagles (1-8), Steinbach allowed just one run and three hits.
Sophomore Sammi Cowger (Fenton, Mich./Fenton) came in and nailed down her first career save, throwing the final three innings and surrendering just one hit while striking out three batters.
On offense, the Cardinals (6-2) connected for 12 hits with sophomore Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Tulsa) posting a double and a triple. Senior third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) and junior catcher Jessica Craft (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) also finished the game with two hits apiece.
After both sides were retired in order in the first inning, the Cardinals struck first in the top of the second thanks to a RBI single down the right field line from Craft. With one out, Bickel doubled to get on base and advanced to second on a groundout to set up Craft’s RBI hit.
The Cardinals tacked on three more runs in the top of the third to pull ahead 4-0. Evans started the inning with a triple and scored on a single to left from junior right fielder Loren Cihlar (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North). After Cihlar stole second, game one hero sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) singled to right center to put runners on the corners.
After Dabkowski stole second, back-to-back groundouts from senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) and senior first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) would drive in the next two runs.
The Eagles would get their lone run of the contest in the bottom of the third after back-to-back two-out singles and a wild pitch allowed Stephanie Etter to score.
Ball State retaliated with two runs in the top of the fourth, moving the score to 6-1. Junior designated player Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan) opened the frame with a single to right and advanced to second on a single through the left side from Craft. Two batters later, Evans smashed a two-run double to left center to drive in the pair or base runners.
The Cardinals scored the game’s final run in the top of the fifth, when Gilbert opened the inning with a double to center and scored courtesy of a Rager RBI single to right.
The Ball State softball team closes play in the Blues City Classic Sunday with a schedule 11 am ET / 10 am CT first pitch versus SEMO.