COLUMBIA, Mo. - - The Ball State softball team used an eight-run fifth inning to rally past UMKC by a score of 8-3 Sunday afternoon to end play at the Mizzou Tournament.
After a rough start to the three-day event, the Cardinals (18-11) rolled off three straight wins to end play at Missouri’s University Field with a 3-2 record for the weekend.
In Sunday’s tournament finale, junior right fielder Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan) led the Ball State offense by going 3-for-3 at the plate with a triple, double and single. She also collected two RBI on her triple in the fifth, while also scoring a pair of runs in the frame.
Senior third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) went 2-for-3 in the batter’s box versus the Kangaroos (10-19), while senior first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) was 2-for-4 including her league-leading 14th double of the season.
In the circle, sophomore pitcher Nicole Steinbach (Merrillville, Ind./Andrean) picked up her seventh win of the season by holding the UMKC offense to 10 hits and three runs, only one of which was earned, over seven innings. She also struck out six batters, with all six going down swinging.
After being held scoreless in Saturday night’s 8-0 (5 inn.) loss to the Cardinals, the ‘Roos cracked the scoreboard first with an unearned run in the top of the first inning.
UMKC pitcher Cinda Ramos would limit the Cardinals to just three hits over the first four innings, but the Ball State offense came to life in the fifth, scoring eight runs on seven hits and one ‘Roos error. In all, the Cardinals sent 13 batters to the plate in the frame.
Stuedemann started the rally with a double down the right field line and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from freshman catcher Shelbie Scamihorn (Terre Haute, Ind./South Vigo). Sophomore pinch hitter Sammi Cowger (Fenton, Mich./Fenton) followed with a RBI single through the left side to drive in Ball State’s first run of the game.
Sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Union) followed with an infield single to the catcher, giving BSU a pair of base runners. Freshman pinch hitter Hayley Cruthers (Swartz Creek, Mich./Swartz Creek) followed with a grounder the UMKC third baseman misplayed, allowing freshman shortstop Amanda Arnett (Monroe, Mich./Monroe), who reentered the game for Cowger, to score the go-ahead run from second.
Senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) would drive in what proved to be the game-winning runs with a two-run double off the left field wall. It was her 56th career double, which is tops among all active NCAA Division I players.
With Ball State leading 4-2, a single from Rager put runners at the corners for Bickel who blasted a sacrifice fly to right field, bringing home Gilbert. After the sac fly, freshman Taylor Cooley (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea), who entered the game to run for Rager, advanced to second on a walk to senior designated player Lauren Schroeder (Greenfield, Ind./New Palestine).
Stuedemann followed with her second hit of the inning, a triple off the left field wall, to clear the bases and push the Ball State lead to 7-1. After a walk to Scamihorn put runners on the corners once again, Arnett beat out an infield single to third base, allowing Stuedemann to score BSU’s final run of the inning.
UMKC would load the bases with one out in the sixth inning, but only manage to push one run across on a two-out RBI single from pinch hitter Alex Gale.
After holding the Cardinals scoreless in the bottom of the sixth, the ‘Roos would threaten once again in the seventh capitalizing on a BSU error to tack on another run. Trailing 8-3, UMKC had bases loaded with two outs, only to have a grounder back to Steinbach end the game.
The Ball State softball team is scheduled to open Mid-American Conference play Friday, with a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Buffalo.