SAN MARCOS, Texas - - The Ball State softball team opened the 2014 season with an impressive offensive display, racking up 19 total runs Saturday afternoon during the first day of the CenturyLink Classic hosted by Texas State.
The Cardinals opened the tournament with a 7-2 victory over the host Bobcats, blasting three home runs in the game. Ball State followed with a 12-2, five-inning win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi which was capped by a three-run, walk-off blast from senior pinch hitter/first baseman Lauren Schroeder (Greenfield, Ind./New Palestine) to secure the run rule.
In her Ball State softball coaching debut, Tyra Perry saw the Cardinals rack up 22 total hits over the two games, including four doubles and four home runs.
“Today was fun,” Perry said. “It’s refreshing to see our team play with so much passion for each other. We knew they had that passion, but seeing it in action is special. The way we strung together hits, the way the defense fed off each other and how the players backed each other up is important. It’s going to be our x-factor as we go through the season.”
With the score of the opening game tied at 1-1 in the top of the fifth, senior outfielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) sparked the Ball State offensive barrage with her first home run of the season. The two-run blast was also the 57th of her illustrious career, which tied her for the Mid-American Conference career lead.
Gilbert was one of three starters to finish the day hitting above .500, while 10 different Cardinals recorded at least one hit. Junior right fielder Loren Cihlar (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North) led Ball State at the plate, going 5-for-7 (.714) with a double, a walk, one RBI and two runs scored.
Gilbert finished the day 4-for-8 with a home run, three RBI and four runs scored. Senior first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) concluded the day 2-for-4 (.500) with a double, two walks, two RBI and three runs scored.
Ball State’s sophomore pitching duo of Nicole Steinbach (Merrillville, Ind./Andrean) and Kelsey Schifferdecker (Belton, Mo./Belton) also turned in a solid effort, combining to allow just four runs over 12 innings, while striking out seven combined batters, as each picked up complete game victories.
Sophomore shortstop Selena Reyna (Houston, Texas/South Houston) led the Ball State defense by helping account for 10 outs, with four putouts and six assists.
The Ball State softball team closes play in the CenturyLink Classic Sunday morning with games versus Southern Illinois (10 a.m. ET/9 a.m. CT) and Stephen F. Austin (Noon ET/11 a.m. CT).
GAME 1 RECAP: Ball State 7 – Texas State 2
The host Bobcats opened the scoring in the top of the first inning, as an RBI single from Kendall Wiley drove in leadoff hitter Kelli Baker who also singled to open the frame.
The score remained 1-0 until the top of the fourth, when the Cardinals pushed across their first run. Gilbert opened the frame by slicing a single through the right side, before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Rager followed with a single to almost the exact same spot to drive in Gilbert from second.
Ball State extended its lead to 6-1 in the top of the fifth inning, with five two-out runs. Cihlar started the rally with a one-out bunt single, before Gilbert blasted her record-tying home run two batters later. After a walk to Rager, senior third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) smashed a RBI double to center field, bringing home the third run of the inning. Ball State’s final two runs came from a two-run blast off the bat of junior designated player Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan).
Texas State would get one run back in the bottom of the frame, as a triple from Baker drove in Jordan Masek who drew a one-out walk.
Ball State’s final run of the game came courtesy of sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam), who launched her first career home run to right center field to open the seventh inning.
In the circle, Steinbach picked up the complete game victory, limiting the Bobcats to two runs and nine hits over seven innings of work. She would strikeout three batters, while issuing just two walks.
Kaylee Garner suffered the loss for Texas State, surrendering six runs off seven hits over 4.2 innings.
GAME 2: Ball State 12 – Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 2
The Cardinals scored early and often in the second game, posting seven runs in the first two innings on their way to a 12-2 win over the Islanders.
Cihlar opened the bottom half of the first with a walk, and after a Dabkowski sacrifice bunt, came around to score on a Gilbert RBI single. Rager followed with a RBI double to bring home Gilbert, while a RBI single from Bickel pushed across the third and final run of the frame.
Sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Union) singled to open the second inning and would cross the plate courtesy of a RBI double from Cihlar who was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple. Walks to Dabkowski and Rager would give Ball State two runners on base, while an Islanders error on a Bickel grounder loaded the bases. A walk to Stuedemann pushed across the Cardinals second run, while another fielding error by the A&M-CC shortstop allowed two more runs to score.
The Islanders scored their only runs of the game in the top of the third, on a RBI double from Dani Tefft and a RBI groundout from Jamise Jackson.
Ball State countered by reclaiming the seven-run edge in the bottom of the frame. Evans once again led off the inning with a single, while a wild pitch and another hustle single from Cihlar moved her to third. Dabkowski would bring Evans home with a single to center. BSU’s second run crossed the plate thanks to another Islanders error.
After a scoreless fourth, which saw sophomore Sammi Cowger (Fenton, Mich./Fenton) open the inning with a pinch hit double, the Cardinals tacked on their final three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Cihlar opened the inning with another bunt single, but was later putout on a fielder’s choice by Dabkowski. Gilbert would follow with a single up the middle putting runners at first and second.
Looking to put a little more speed on second, freshman Taylor Cooley (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) came in to pinch run for Dabkowski. The speed was not needed, however, as Schroeder blasted a game-ending three-run homer deep over the center field wall.
Schifferdecker picked up the win in the circle for Ball State, allowing just two runs and seven hits over five innings of work. She struck out four batters while not issuing a walk.
Liz Carter suffered the loss for A&M-CC, allowing 10 runs (six earned) and 12 hits over 4.0 innings of work.