CONWAY, Ark. - - Behind a 4-for-4 effort from senior catcher Sadie Robertson, the Ball State softball team opened the second day of play at the 2013 UCA Softball Tournament with a 9-3 victory over Northern Iowa Saturday morning at Farris Field.
After the Cardinals (5-2) were retired in order in the first two innings, Robertson belted her first of two doubles in the game to bring the Ball State offense to life.
Junior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert also turned in another impressive performance in the batter's box, blasting a two-run double off the left-center field wall to plate the game's first runs and finished the day 2-for-4 with a walk, two RBI and one run scored.
In the circle, redshirt junior Audra Sanders earned her first victory of the season, moving to 1-1 on the year, by limiting the Northern Iowa (4-9) offense to just four hits and three runs over 4.2 innings of work.
Freshman pitcher Nicole Steinbach picked up her first career save as well, holding the Panthers hitless over the final 2.1 innings. Both BSU pitchers would also log one strikeout in the game.
Following Robertson's double in the top of the third, freshman shortstop Selena Reyna singled to center field to give BSU runners at the corners. Two batters later, Gilbert would drive in the game's first two runs with her double off the wall to plate junior pinch runner Julie Cortez and Reyna, who had advanced to second on a stolen base.
Rager opened the fourth inning with a double of her own, while junior pinch runner Jessica Craft would be advanced to third thanks to a groundout from junior designated player Lauren Schroeder. While a fielder's choice on a sacrifice bunt attempt from senior center fielder Amanda Carpenter would get the lead runner at home, Carpenter would advance to second on a wild pitch and score on an RBI single to right center from Robertson.
Ball State would tack on three runs in the top of the fifth inning, thanks to a one-out rally started by a walk to Gilbert. Stuedemann would follow with a single, while a walk to junior third baseman Audrey Bickel loaded the bases. After a UNI pass ball allowed Gilbert to score the first run, a fielder's choice on a grounder to first from Rager brought home the second. Schroder followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Cardinals a 6-0 edge.
Northern Iowa would cut the Ball State lead in half in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a two-out, three-run homer from Julia Hunter. Steinbach would then enter the game in relief for Sanders and strikeout out the next batter to stop the UNI rally.
The Cardinals would get one of the runs back in the top of the sixth thanks in part to another leadoff double from Robertson. An illegal pitch would move BSU's starting catcher to third, while a sacrifice fly from sophomore second baseman Taylor Cox drove home the run.
Ball State tallied its final two runs in the top of the seventh to make the final margin 9-3. Rager opened the inning with a single, while Schroeder followed with a double to put runners at second and third. Carpenter then sliced a two-run single up the middle to drive home both Rager and freshman pinch runner Briana Evans.
Jamie Fisher (1-7) suffered the loss in the circle for Northern Iowa by giving up six hits and five earned runs over 5.0 innings.The Ball State softball team returns to action later this afternoon with a scheduled 3 p.m. (CT) first pitch versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Central Arkansas' Farris Field.