COLUMBIA, Mo. - - The Ball State softball team opened play in the Mizzou Tournament with losses to North Dakota State (9-3) and host No. 18 Missouri (11-3, 6 inn) Friday afternoon at University Field.
Junior catcher Jessica Craft (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) led the Cardinals’ (15-11) offense with three hits over the two games, including a solo home run in the opener versus NDSU. She also drew a walk to finish the day with a .667 on-base percentage.
Senior first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) also collected a home run on the day, going yard versus the host Tigers to tie the score at 3-3 in the top of the third inning. Rager also drew a walk to raise her career total to 97 which is sixth in Mid-American Conference history.
The Ball State softball team returns to action Saturday, starting with a 1 pm ET / Noon CT rematch versus North Dakota State. The Cardinals will also play UMKC in a schedule 7:45 pm ET / 6:45 pm CT first pitch later in the evening.
GAME ONE RECAP: North Dakota State 9 – Ball State 3
After three scoreless innings, it was the Bison (17-9) who would strike first by putting a five-spot on the Missouri scoreboard in the top of the fourth. With bases loaded and one out, NDSU scored its first run when a Ball State error on a fielder’s choice allowed the runner from third to score. Cheyenne Garcia followed with a grand slam over the fence in right field to push the score to 5-0.
Ball State collected its first run of the contest in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a two-out, solo shot from Craft which just snuck inside the foul pole in left field.
NDSU answered with a two-run sixth inning, extending its lead to 7-1. Alex Sobrero opened the inning with a double to left, while Garcia collected her fifth RBI of the game two batters later with a single to right-center field. After Garcia stole second, a RBI single from Amanda Grable drove in the final NDSU run of the inning.
Ball State’s bats started to come to life in the bottom of the sixth, as a one-out single from sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) was followed by a RBI double from senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney). Unfortunately, the rally was stopped with a strikeout and foul fly.
North Dakota State retaliated with two more runs in the top of the seventh, pulling ahead 9-3, on a two-run double from Sobrero.
Ball State looked poised to rally in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with just one out. However, the Cardinals could only push one run across when junior right fielder Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan) scored on a two-out pass ball.
Krista Menke (12-3) picked up the pitching win for the Bison, limiting the Cardinals to five hits and three runs (two earned) over seven innings.
GAME TWO RECAP: No. 18 Missouri 11 - Ball State 3 (6 inn.)
The Cardinals opened the second game strong, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. Sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Union) leadoff the game with a single and advanced to second thanks to an error on a fielder’s choice from Dabkowski. After a pair of outs, senior third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) blasted a two-run double up the middle to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
The host Tigers (19-8) answered with three runs in the bottom of the first to pull ahead 3-2. Missouri’s first three batters reached base, and after a lineout to third, scored their first runs of the contest on a three-run double from Mackenzie Skyes.
After a scoreless second inning, Rager tied the score at 3-3 with a two-out, solo home run in the top of the third inning.
Unfortunately, Missouri would score eight unanswered runs over their final four at bats to win the game 11-3 in six innings. The Tigers posted one run in both the third and fifth innings, while tallying three in the fourth and sixth frames.
Casey Stangel earned the win in the circle for Mizzou, surrendering seven hits and three runs (one earned) over 4.0 innings of work.