MUNCIE, Ind. - - Ball State’s three starting seniors each blasted a home run, including a third inning grand slam from third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean), to help lift the softball team to a 9-1 (5 inn.) victory over visiting Miami Sunday afternoon at the BSU Softball Complex.
With the win, the Cardinals improve to 29-16 (9-3 Mid-American Conference) and maintain a half-game lead over Kent State (10-4 MAC) in the overall league race. The RedHawks fall to 18-25 (6-10 MAC) with the loss.
“Today was fun,” Ball State head coach Tyra Perry said. “I really enjoyed the energy our team brought. In the first inning, we struggled a little bit, but the team stayed strong, started to have quality at bats and did what was necessary to win the game. I thought all four of our seniors did a great job today. Audrey, Jenny and Taylor provided the bulk of our offense, with each hitting a home run, while Lauren came off the bench with a pinch hit double. All four are great hitters and it’s always fun to see them at work.”
Ball State’s four seniors combined to post six of the team’s seven hits in the game, while also drawing two of the team’s five walks. Left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) and first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) led the way with two hits apiece, including back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning. Gilbert’s was a three-run shot to left field for her 74th career home run, while Rager’s was a solo shot to right center for her 35th career blast. In her lone at bat of the day, senior pinch hitter Lauren Schroeder (Greenfield, Ind./New Palestine) deposited a double into right field.
After a scoreless inning-and-a-half, the Cardinals tallied their first run on a bases loaded two-out single from sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Union) in the bottom of the second. Rager scored on the play after leading off the inning with a single and moving to third after both sophomore designated player Sammi Cowger (Fenton, Mich./Fenton) and freshman catcher Shelbie Scamihorn (Terre Haute, Ind./South Vigo) were hit by pitches.
Bickel’s fourth career grand slam, and second of the season, would extend Ball State’s lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the third. Sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) walked to open the inning, while a Gilbert single and an error by the Miami right fielder put runners at second and third. After the RedHawks intentionally walked Rager to load the bases, Bickel made them pay by depositing her 24th career home run over the fence in left field.
Miami cut the Ball State lead to 5-1 in the top of the fourth, scoring its lone run of the game on a sacrifice fly from Bree Lipscomb.
The Cardinals’ senior bomb squad went back to work in the bottom of the inning, putting the game out of reach. With one out, junior pinch hitter Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan) drew a walk and advanced safely to second when Dabkowski reached on a fielder’s choice. Gilbert followed with her league-leading 18th home run of the season. Not to be outdone, Rager wrapped up the Cardinals’ scoring with a seventh home run of the season two pitches later.
Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Schifferdecker (Belton, Mo./Belton) continued to shine in the circle for Ball State, improving to 14-5 on the year by limiting the RedHawks to just four hits and one earned run over 5.0 innings of work. She struck out four batters in the contest, while issuing just one walk.
Ball State closes the regular season next weekend by hosting Central Michigan for a Friday (1 pm) doubleheader and Eastern Michigan for single games Saturday (2 pm) and Sunday (1 pm). The Golden Flashes host their travel partner Buffalo for single games Saturday (2 pm) and Sunday (1 pm) next weekend.
For the most up-to-date news on Ball State softball, follow the team on Twitter: @BallStateSB and @TyraPerry13/ Instagram: ballstatesb / Facebook: BallStateSoftball
- BallStateSports.com -