MUNCIE, Ind. - - After a tough 4-2 loss in the opener, Ball State softball’s offense exploded for seven runs in the first inning on the way to a 15-2 (5 inn.) win over Akron in the nightcap Friday afternoon at the BSU Softball Complex.
With the split, the Cardinals move to 25-16 (5-3 Mid-American Conference) on the season entering Saturday’s 2 p.m. home game versus Ohio. The Zips are now 20-11 (6-4 MAC) on the year.
“We are an energy-driven team and it showed today,” Ball State head coach Tyra Perry said. “We had very little energy until late in the first game and paid the price. I thought we did a great job of regrouping after the loss, and played with a lot of intensity and fire in the second game. Kelsey did another great job for the team today in a tough situation. She came in focused, hit her spots and was a catalyst for the team on defense.”
Highlighting the day’s performances was sophomore pitcher Kelsey Schifferdecker (Belton, Mo./Belton), who entered the opening game in relief and started the second. Over 9.2 innings of work, Schifferdecker held Akron to two runs and 12 hits. She also struck out four batters, including the final Zip hitter in the 15-2 victory.
On offense, senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) had another strong day, going a combined 4-for-7 (.571) with a walk over the two games. She led the Ball State offense with six RBI and also tied for team-high honors with three runs scored. After collecting a RBI single in the opener, Gilbert had three RBI hits in the nightcap, including a two-run home run in the first inning. The blast was the 73rd of her career, moving Gilbert into a tie for eighth on the NCAA Division I career home run list.
Sophomore designated player Sammi Cowger (Fenton, Mich./Fenton) also blasted her first career home run in the 15-2 victory, with a two-run shot to right center in the second inning, giving Ball State a 9-1 edge at the time. Cowger finished the day 2-for-3 (.667) at the plate and also drew a pair of walks.
Senior third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) also finished the day with a .667 batting average, going 4-for-6 with a walk. Sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) tagged three doubles over the two games, while batting .571 (4-for-7) with a walk.
Overall, the Cardinals hit .411 (23-for-56) over the two games. Ball State’s 15 runs in the nightcap were a season-high, while the seven runs in the opening inning of game two were the second-best single-inning output of the year.
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GAME ONE RECAP: Akron 4 – Ball State 2
Akron was the first team on the scoreboard in the opener, as a sacrifice fly from McKenzi Rhodes drove in the game’s first run in the top of the second inning. Rachael Ratcliffe would follow with a two-run single to right field, upping the Zips’ edge to 3-0.
Ball State answered with a two-run fifth, cutting the gap to 3-2. Sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Union) reached on an Akron error to open the inning, and advanced to second on a bunt single from junior right fielder Loren Cihlar (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North). Two batters later, Gilbert singled through the right side to bring home Ball State’s first run of the game. After a walk to senior first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) loaded the bases, Bickel drove a sacrifice fly to right field to give BSU its second run.
Unfortunately, Akron would add another run in the top of the sixth and hold the Cardinals scoreless the remainder of the game. Erin Seiler picked up the pitching win for the Zips, improving to 13-4 by surrendering just two runs, both unearned, and forcing Ball State to strand 12 runners on base.
GAME TWO RECAP: Ball State 15 – Akron 2 (5 inn.)
Akron also scored the first run in the second game, thanks to a RBI double to center field from Jessica Schneider in the top of the first. The lead was short-lived, however, as the Cardinals’ offense exploded for seven runs and on six hits and two Akron errors in the bottom of the first.
Cihlar walked to open the inning, and came home on Dabkowski’s first of two doubles in the game. Gilbert followed with a two-run blast over the right-center field fence to give Schifferdecker all the run support she would need. However, the Cardinals offense was not done, as BSU would go on to load the bases with no outs. Rager drew a walk, while Bickel and Cowger followed with back-to-back singles.
Freshman pinch runner Amanda Arnett (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) scored the Cardinals fourth run of the inning, crossing the plate on a fielder’s choice and Akron error when the catcher missed toughing the bag on the force play at home. An infield single from Selena Reyna (Houston, Texas/South Houston) drove in Bickel for the next run.
After Akron was able to get the force play at home on an Evans grounder for the second out of the inning, the Zips catcher dropped the throw home on a Cihlar fielder’s choice to allow freshman catcher Shelbie Scamihorn (Terre Haute, Ind./South Vigo) to score. Dabkowski followed with a RBI single to the shortstop to bring home the final run of the inning, moving the score 7-1.
Cowger would give Ball State a 9-1 edge with one out in the second, following a double from Bickel with her first career home run.
The third inning saw junior right fielder Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan) walk to open the inning, and advance to third on Dabkowski’s second double in three at bats. Gilbert followed with a two-run single to right, pushing the Ball State advantage to 11-1. Gilbert would eventually come around to score BSU’s third and final run of the inning when senior pinch hitter Lauren Schroeder (Greenfield, Ind./New Palestine) was hit by a pitch with bases loaded.
After Akron scored one run in the top of the fourth, the Cardinals answered with three of their own in the bottom of the frame. Stuedemann singled to open the inning, while Dabkowski walked to give BSU a pair of base runners. Gilbert responded with her third RBI hit of the game, slicing a single down the right field line. Rager would follow with a two-run single to right, driving in the game’s final two runs.
After a two-out double from Akron in the top of the fifth, Schifferdecker would strikeout the game’s final batter to pick up her 12th victory of the season. Over 4.2 innings of work in the second game, Schifferdecker limited the Zips to six hits and one earned run.
- BallStateSports.com -