JACKSONVILLE, Ala. - - The Ball State softball team opened its eight-game, six-day spring break trip with an 8-4 loss at Jacksonville State’s University Field Tuesday evening.
Sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) led the Cardinals (12-5) offense with a pair of hits, including a RBI single in the four-run fifth inning. Senior first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) added her Mid-American Conference leading ninth double of the season to drive in two more runs in the frame.
Senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) would also double in the game, raising her career total to 52 which is second in program history and five shy of the MAC record held by former BSU teammate Amanda Montalto (2009-12) at 57.
With Ball State leading 4-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Gamecocks (14-5) used three home runs to score six unanswered runs over the next two innings to rally for the victory.
After three-and-a-half scoreless innings, Jacksonville State would load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, setting up a RBI single from pinch hitter Jamie McGuire to drive in the game’s first run. After a fly out to left field, JSU would tally a second run on a RBI fielder’s choice from Stephanie Lewis.
After giving up a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth, the Ball State offense rallied for four runs in the top of the fifth inning to pull ahead 4-2. Freshman catcher Shelbie Scamihorn (Terra Haute, Ind./South Vigo) opened the frame with a walk, while an infield single from sophomore shortstop Selena Reyna (Houston, Texas/South Houston) moved freshman pinch runner Taylor Cooley (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) to second. Sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Union) would help load the bases by reaching base on a fielder’s choice, while a JSU error allowed Cooley to advance to third.
Junior right fielder Loren Cihlar (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North) drove in Ball State’s first run of the game with a RBI single to left field. Dabkowski followed with a RBI single of her own to center field, knotting the score at 2-2. After Ball State’s first out of the frame, Rager blasted a two-run double to left giving the Cardinals a 4-2 edge.
Unfortunately, the Gamecocks would answer with a two-run homer from Sara Boarders and a three-run blast from Amanda Maldonado in the bottom of the fifth to reclaim the lead at 7-4.
After holding the Cardinals scoreless in the top of the sixth, a leadoff home run from Ella Denes pushed the score to 8-4.
Tiffany Harbin picked up the pitching win for Jacksonville State, improving to 4-3 on the season by holding the Cardinals offense to seven hits and four runs (three earned) on the day. Ball State entered the contest ranked third nationally with a .354 team batting average.
The Ball State softball team returns to action Wednesday, when it travels to UAB for a 3 pm ET / 2 pm CT doubleheader versus the Blazers.