WOODSTOCK, Ga. - - Junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert continued where she left off last season by blasting her first home run of the year, the 34th of her career, to help the Ball State softball team score a 15-5 win over IUPUI in its season opener at the KSU Classic hosted by Kennessaw State Saturday morning.
Overall nine different Cardinals recorded at least one hit in the season-opening win, with sophomore right fielder Hanne Stuedemann going 3-for-5 at the plate with two runs scored. Gilbert finished the contest 2-for-2 with two walks, three RBI and four runs scored, while junior first baseman Taylor Rager and senior center fielder Amanda Carpenter also collected three RBI apiece.
In the circle, freshman hurler Kelsey Schifferdecker picked up the win in her collegiate debut, allowing five runs and seven hits over 3.2 innings. She also struck out three batters. Redshirt junior pitcher Audra Sanders finished the game, allowing just one hit and striking out six batters over 3.1 innings.
The Cardinals wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as three batters into the game Gilbert laced an RBI single through the right side to plate freshman designated player Briana Evans who led off the game with a walk. A sacrifice fly from junior first baseman Audrey Bickel followed, driving in sophomore right fielder Hanne Stuedemann who also singled early in the inning.
Ball State tacked on five more runs in the top of the second to pull ahead 7-0. The Cardinals started the frame with three straight singles from freshman shortstop Selena Reyna, sophomore second baseman Taylor Cox and Evans. A wild pitch would bring in the first run of the frame, while walks to Gilbert and Bickel brought home another.
Following an RBI groundout from Rager, senior center fielder Amanda Carpenter drove a double to the left-center field wall to push home the final two runs of the inning.
Ball State extended its lead to 9-0 in the top of the fourth, as a pair of IUPUI errors helped set up a two-run single from junior pinch hitter Lauren Schroeder.
The Jaguars would not go down without a fight, however, as they posted a five-spot of their own in the bottom half of the fourth to pull within 9-5.
Gilbert would help get two of the runs back in the top of the fifth, thanks to her two-run blast over the center field wall.
After holding IUPUI scoreless in both the fifth and sixth frames, Ball State extended its lead to 15-5 in the top of the seventh with four more runs. A bases loaded double to left field from Rager drove in the first two runs of the inning in sophomore pinch runner Loren Cihlar and Gilbert. Carpenter would follow with a RBI groundout to bring in Bickel who reach base on a walk, while freshman pinch runner Sammi Cowger scored the game's final run on a double up the middle from senior catcher Sadie Robertson.
Emili Escamilla suffered the loss in the circle for IUPUI after allowing five runs on six hits over one inning of work.