SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Ball State softball team dropped a 7-2 decision to the undefeated USC Upstate Spartans Monday afternoon to conclude play in the Buffalo Wild Wings Spartan Invitational.
The Cardinals, who fell to 4-2 with the loss, were led offensively by sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla. / Union) who was 3-for-3 from the plate and drove in both of Ball State’s runs. The Spartans, who received votes in both softball polls last week, improved to a spotless 8-0 on the year.
With two outs in the bottom of the first, the home team broke onto the scoreboard first thanks to a single from Meredith Barnes and a two-run blast from Shellie Robinson which gave the Spartans the 2-0 lead.
The bottom of the second inning saw Upstate tack on two more runs thanks to RBI singles from Aly Schneider and Dana Landers.
Ball State would get its first hits of the game in the top of the third inning when Evans and junior right fielder Loren Cihlar (St. Charles, Ill. /St. Charles North) hit singles. The Cardinals were unable to capitalize, however, leaving both on base.
Reigning MAC West Division Pitcher of the Week Kelsey Schifferdecker (Belton, Mo. / Belton) and the defense stepped up in the bottom of the third inning, as the Spartans went three up and three down. The Cardinals would also hold Upstate off the scoreboard in the fourth and fifth innings.
Evans recorded her second single of the game in the top of the fifth inning to advanced freshman pinch runner Taylor Cooley (Chelsea, Mich. / Chelsea) to second after she came in to pinch run for freshman catcher Shelbie Scamihorn (Terra Haute, Ind. / South Vigo) who was hit by a pitch. Unfortunately, a double play by the Spartans kept the Cardinals from scoring in the inning.
The bottom of the sixth saw Settlemyre hit a two-run blast to right center field to give the Spartans a 6-0 lead. Two batters later, the Spartans tacked on their final run of the game on a long ball from Kaitlyn Jaeger.
Sophomore pitcher Sammi Cowger (Fenton, Mich. / Fenton) would close out the inning in the circle for Ball State, retiring two of the three batters she faced.
The seventh inning saw junior designated player Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich. / Mattawan) single through the left side to open the frame, before being replaced by freshman pinch runner Amanda Arnett (Monroe, Mich. / Monroe). Senior pinch hitter Lauren Schroeder (Greenfield, Ind. / New Palestine) followed with a double to center field to put runners at second and third, with junior pinch runner Jessica Craft (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) entering the game for Schroeder.
Evans would push across the Cardinals only runs of the game in the next at bat, with a two-run single to center field.
Nicole Steinbach (Merrillville, Ind. / Andrean) suffered the loss in the circle for the Cardinals, while Lexi Shubert picked up a win after striking out five batters.
Ball State is back in action next weekend at the Blue City Classic in Southaven, Miss., Feb. 22-23.