BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - - The Ball State softball team dropped both ends of a Wednesday doubleheader at UAB, falling 7-6 in the opener and 6-1 in the nightcap at the UAB Softball Field.
The Cardinals fall to 12-7 on the season with the two losses, while the Blazers improve to 11-12 after the two wins.
In the opener, senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) blasted her 63rd career home run and also added her 53rd career double. Gilbert entered the week as the NCAA Division I active career leader in doubles, while ranking second in career home runs. Gilbert also drew a walk in the second contest and has now reached base safely in all 19 BSU games this season and in a career-long 26 games dating back to last season.
Sophomore shortstop Selena Reyna (Houston, Texas/South Houston) finished the opener with a double, two RBI and a walk, while adding a solo home run in the seventh inning of the nightcap to score BSU’s lone run in the game.
Junior catcher Jessica Craft (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) and junior left fielder Loren Cihlar (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North) each collected three hits on the day, with Craft going 3-for-5 and being hit by a pitch over the two games and Cihlar going 3-for-7 with a walk. Both players scored a run, while Cihlar added a RBI.
The Ball State softball team opens play in the War Eagle Classic hosted by No. 23/24 Auburn Friday, when it battles Alabama A&M (Noon ET / 11 am CT) and Radford (4:30 pm ET / 3:30 pm CT).
GAME 1 RECAP: UAB 7 – Ball State 6
The Cardinals jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the first game, as sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) logged a one-out infield single and Gilbert followed with a RBI double to right-center field.
Ball State added two more runs in the top of the second, starting with a RBI double to right-center from Reyna. Craft scored on the play after posting a one-out single up the middle. After a wild pitch moved Reyna to third, Cihlar drove a two-out single to the third base side to plate BSU’s second run.
UAB cut the Cardinals lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the second, scoring runs on a RBI fielder’s choice from Danii Fernandez and a RBI bunt single from Caitlin Attfield.
Gilbert walked to open the third inning for the Cardinals, and after reaching second on a groundout, would be replace by freshman pinch runner Taylor Cooley (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea). Ball State would go on to load the bases with two outs, setting up a RBI walk to Reyna. Unfortunately, the Cardinals were unable to push any more runs across in the frame.
A BSU error in the bottom of the third allowed UAB to post its third run of the game, before a two-run blast from Gilbert in the top of the fourth moved the score to 6-3. Cihlar scored on the blast after walking and stealing second base.
Unfortunately, the Blazers would battle back and tie the score in the bottom of the sixth on a one-out, three-run home run from Kristen McGrath.
After retiring the Cardinals in order in the top of the seventh, UAB pushed across the game-winning run in the bottom of the frame on a two-out single from Heather Pearson.
Leigh Streetman earned the pitching victory in a relief appearance for UAB, holding the Cardinals to just two hits and two earned runs over the final 4.1 innings.
GAME TWO RECAP: UAB 6 – Ball State 1
UAB took control of the second contest early, posting the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning on a RBI single from Mary Warren.
Streetman would continue to shine in the circle for the Blazers, holding the Cardinals scoreless over the first six frames. After retiring 12 of the first 13 batters she faced in the nightcap, Streetman worked out a one-out, two-on jam in the fifth inning and a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth.
A BSU error proved costly in the bottom of the fourth inning, as UAB capitalized with three unearned runs extending its lead to 4-0. The Blazers would go on to add single runs in the fifth and sixth, extending its lead to 6-0.
Ball State’s lone run of the contest came with one out in the top of the seventh, when Reyna belted her second home run of the season over the left field wall. Sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Union) followed with a single up the middle, but the Cardinals’ rally was halted there by a game-ending double play.