MUNCIE, Ind. - - The Ball State softball team opened a Thursday doubleheader against instate rival Purdue with a 9-7 victory at the BSU Softball Complex, but suffered an 8-6 setback in the nightcap.
The Cardinals (25-12) continued their strong hitting over the two games, pounding out 22 total hits for a .355 (22-for-65) batting average on the day. Of the 22 hits, nine were multi-base knocks, including a home run and a pair of doubles from senior catcher Amanda Montalto (Las Vegas, Nev./Palo Verde).
Purdue, which entered the week second in the Big Ten standings, moved to 25-13 with the split.
Freshman second baseman Taylor Cox (Garden Grove, Calif./Pacifica) led the Cardinals with a .571 (4-for-7) mark on the day, including a double and a triple.
Montalto and senior shortstop Alison Mercado (Perris, Calif./Arizona Western College) each concluded the day at .500, with Montalto going 4-for-8 and Mercado 3-for-6.
Reigning Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) added three hits, while driving in a team-best four RBI to go with three runs score.
The Ball State softball team returns to action Saturday, when it opens a two-game MAC crossover series versus East Division leader Miami at 2 p.m.
GAME 1 RECAP: Ball State 9 - Purdue 7
The Cardinals' defense was on display early in the opener, as sophomore third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) turned a foul fly into the first of three BSU double plays in the game to end the top of the first.
However, it was Purdue's offense which would strike first in the top of the second, as an RBI single from Erika Petruzzi drove home the game's first run.
The Boilermakers looked poised to pull away, as a three-run third inning gave the guests from West Lafayette an early 4-0 edge.
However, the Cardinals would score the next six runs, starting with a two-run blast from Montalto in the bottom of the frame.
Trailing 4-2 entering the bottom of the fourth, the Cardinals chipped in four more runs thanks in part to a three-run blast to deep center field from Gilbert. Ball State's first run of the inning came on a RBI single from freshman right fielder Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan) which plated Mercado who led off with a single.
The Boilermakers were able to even the score in the top of the fifth on a two-run rocket from Danielle Fletcher, who ended up going yard three times over the two games.
Ball State answered the call with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull ahead 9-6. With one out, a Mercado single and a Cox double put runners at second and third. Pinch hitter Loren Cihlar (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North) followed with a two-run double down the left field line. Two batters later, a double from Gilbert drove in BSU's final run of the game.
Purdue threatened in the top of the seventh, as a single, bunt single and a BSU throwing error pushed one run across, but with one out and runners at first and second, a diving grab by Mercado on a liner to short sparked a game-ending double play.
Senior pitcher Kim Mazzapica (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake) earned the win in the contest, improving to 14-3 on the year by allowing seven runs (three earned) on 12 hits over six innings of work. She would also strikeout a pair of Boilermakers.
Senior pitcher Audrey Workman (Wickenburg, Ariz./Yavapai College) picked up her second save of the season helping work out of the seventh-inning jam. She retired both batters she faced, including forcing the inning-ending double play.
Lexy Moore suffered the loss for the Boilermakers in the circle, falling to 16-5 after allowing nine runs on 13 hits over 4.2 innings of work.
GAME 2 RECAP: Purdue 8 - Ball State 6
The Cardinals took charge early in the nightcap, out-scoring the guests 5-1 in the first two frames. Ball State's first two runs came in the bottom of the first as Stuedemann and Gilbert were both hit by pitches and came around to score. Stuedemann would cross home plate on a RBI single from Montalto, while Gilbert scored on a double steal.
After a solo home run from Fletcher in the second, the Cardinals tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the frame starting with a walk to Mercado and a RBI triple from Cox. Junior catcher Sadie Robertson (Fenton, Mo./Rockwood Summit) would follow Cox with her first career triple to drive home the second run. A Purdue error would eventually bring home Robertson.
Purdue answered with a three-run third inning, thanks to a two-run double from Andie Varsho and a sacrifice fly by Petruzzi.
Trailing 5-4, the Boilermakers tied the score in the top of the fifth with another leadoff homer by Fletcher.
Ball State would reclaim a one-run edge in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to a leadoff double from Montalto and a RBI single from Bickel.
Unfortunately, Purdue tallied three runs in the top of the seventh and was able to shut down the Cardinals in the bottom of the inning to win the game 8-6.
Workman suffered the loss for BSU, falling to 11-9. Over seven innings, she allowed eight runs on eight hits. She would strikeout three batters.
Katie Hackney (5-2) earned the win for Purdue, surrendering six runs (five earned) on nine hits.