TEMPE, Ariz. - - Ball State softball’s sluggers bashed four home runs to help lift the Cardinals to a 9-6 victory over Detroit Saturday morning in the Louisville Slugger Invitational hosted by Arizona State.
With the win, Ball State extends its current winning streak to six games and improves to 10-2 overall this season.
The severe weather which moved into the Tempe area following Ball State's victory over Detroit forced the cancellation of the remainder of Saturday's games at the Louisville Slugger Invitational and led to changes in Sunday's schedule.
The Cardinals will now play tournament host No. 3 Arizona State at 4:45 pm MST (6:45 pm ET) and Detroit at 7 pm MST (9 pm ET) Sunday.
Senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) smashed a pair of homers versus Detroit (2-10), finishing the contest 3-for-3 with a double and a walk. She also scored four runs and became the first player in Mid-American Conference history to collect 200 career RBI with her three runs driven.
Gilbert now has 60 career home runs, which is second among all active NCAA Division I players, while her 200 career RBI and 178 runs scored are tops among active players.
Senior third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) and junior catcher Jessica Craft (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) also tallied long balls versus the Titans. Bickel finished the contest 3-for-3 with a walk and a game-high four RBI.
In the circle, freshman pitcher Jocelyn Rivera (Brooklyn, Ohio/Brooklyn) earned her first career victory after throwing 5.1 innings. The game’s starting pitcher, she actually earned the win in relief after reentering the game in the bottom of the fourth and retiring five of the final seven batters she faced.
Sophomore pitcher Nicole Steinbach (Merrilleville, Ind./Andrean) picked up her second save in as many games, throwing the final 1.2 innings and holding the Titans to just one hit while logging a strikeout and helping induce a double play.
Gilbert opened the scoring in the top of the first inning with her first blast of the game, a two-out solo shot over the left-center field wall.
Craft would lead off the second inning with a solo shot of her own, giving Ball State a 2-0 edge.
Detroit would cut the gap to one run in the bottom of the second, thanks to a leadoff double from Katelyn Steffel which was followed by a single and BSU throwing error.
The Cardinals retaliated with four runs in the top of the third, to pull ahead 4-1. Gilbert drew a walk to open the inning and advanced to third on a double from senior first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern). Bickel followed with a double to left field to drive in both runners.
Ball State extended its lead to 5-1 in the top of the fourth thanks to a one-out double from Gilbert and a two-out RBI single from Bickel.
Detroit would open the bottom of the fourth with back-to-back doubles making the score 5-2, and add on four more runs to pull ahead 6-5.
The lead was short-lived however, as a one-out double from sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Union) in the top of the fifth helped spark a three-run BSU rally. Evans would come around to score on a two-out error by the Detroit third baseman which also allowed sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) to reach base. Gilbert took advantage of the extra out by blasting a two-run shot deep over the center field wall helping BSU reclaim the lead at 8-5.
Bickel would add an insurance run in the top of the sixth, with a leadoff homerun over the left field wall to give the game its final score of 9-5.