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Long Ball Lifts Softball Past North Dakota State

   COLUMBIA, Mo. - - The Ball State softball team used four home runs and a game-ending double play to secure a 6-4 win over North Dakota State to open the second day of the Mizzou Tournament Saturday afternoon at Missouri’s University Field.

   Ball State returns to action later tonight, when they take on UMKC in a scheduled 7:45 pm ET / 6:45 pm CT first pitch.

   With the Cardinals (16-11) clinging to a 6-4 lead with one out and runners at second and third in the bottom of the seventh, a hard liner at freshman shortstop Amanda Arnett (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) turned into a game-ending double play as she flipped the ball to second for the game’s final out.

   Senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) drove in what proved to be the game-winning runs with a two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning. With her 66th career home run, Gilbert took over sole possession of the NCAA’s career home run record among Canadian-born players. She entered the game tied with her Canadian National Team teammate Jen Yee who racked up 65 career home runs while playing for Niagara (2006-07) and Georgia Tech (2009-10).

   Junior right fielder Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan) opened the scoring versus the Bison (18-10) with a two-out, solo home run in the top of the second inning.

   North Dakota State answered with a two-out, two-run blast from Cheyenne Garcia in the bottom of the third to take a brief 2-1 lead.

   However, senior designated player Lauren Schroeder (Greenfield, Ind./New Palestine) countered with a two-run blast of her own in the top of the fourth, helping Ball State reclaim the lead at 3-2. Senior third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) opened the inning with a bloop single to right field, setting up the two-run blast from Schroeder.

   Ball State added three more runs in the sixth inning, upping its lead to 6-2. Junior catcher Jessica Craft (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) opened the frame with a solo homer over the center field wall, pushing the score to 4-2. Two outs later, sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) drew a five-pitch walk to set up Gilbert’s two-run blast to left-center field.

   North Dakota State rallied for two runs in the bottom of the inning, cutting the lead to 6-4. However, they would strand bases loaded on an inning-ending groundout to Arnett.

   The Bison’s first two hitters reached base to open the bottom of the seventh, with a groundout quickly gave the hosts on the scoreboard a pair of runners in scoring position. However, a hard liner at Arnett turned into a game-ending double play as she flipped the ball to Dabkowski covering second for the final out of the game.

   Sophomore pitcher Nicole Steinbach (Merrillville, Ind./Andrean) earned the win in the circle for Ball State, improving to 6-5 after holding the Bison to six hits and four runs over 7.0 innings of work. Steinbach also tallied three strikeouts in the game.

   Tabby Bayers suffered the pitching loss for NDSU, allowing 10 hits and six runs over 7.0 innings of work.

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