BOCA RATON, Fla. - - Thanks in part to another solid pitching performance from freshman Nicole Steinbach, the Ball State softball team ended the opening day of the FAU Classic with a 2-0 win over tournament host Florida Atlantic Friday afternoon.
In picking up her third complete game shutout victory of the season, Steinbach limited the Owls (5-10) to just seven hits and a walk over seven innings of work. She also tallied three strikeouts and improved to 3-2 in the circle this season.
After a scoreless first two innings, the Cardinals (7-4) pushed across what proved to be the game-winning run in the bottom of the third. With bases loaded and one out, junior third baseman Audrey Bickel deposited an RBI single in front of the FAU right fielder to bring home freshman right fielder Briana Evans who singled three batters earlier.
Ball State would push across an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth, as a one-out single from freshman shortstop Selena Reyna was followed by an RBI triple from sophomore second baseman Taylor Cox.
Ball State's defense came up huge in the first four innings, recording inning-ending double plays in the second and third, while adding another for the first two outs of the fourth. In all, the Cardinals have tallied 10 double plays so far this season after leading the nation in 2012 with 33 twin killings last season.
From there, Steinbach would limit the Owls' offense to single two-out base runners in each of the final three innings.
Taylor Fawbush took the loss in the circle for FAU, falling to 2-5 this season. She allowed five hits and two runs over 6.0 innings of work.
The Ball State softball team returns to action in the FAU Classic Saturday, when it plays league rival Eastern Michigan (9 a.m.) and Big Ten foe Michigan State (1 p.m.).