AUBURN, Ala. - - Freshman pitcher Jocelyn Rivera (Brooklyn, Ohio/Brooklyn) turned in a dominating effort in the circle to guide the Ball State softball team to a 12-0 (5 inn.) win over Alabama A&M Friday afternoon in the team’s opening game of the War Eagle Classic hosted by Auburn.
The Cardinals, who improve to 13-7 with the win, return to action later this afternoon with a scheduled 4:10 pm ET/ 3:10 pm CT first pitch versus Radford.
In picking up her first career complete game victory, Rivera chalked up a career-high seven strikeouts and did not issue a walk. Rivera limited the Lady Bulldogs (8-15) to just five hits over 5.0 innings of work to improve to 2-1 on the year.
The Ball State offense tallied 13 total hits in the game, led by the 3-for-4 effort from senior third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean). Bickel blasted her third home run of the season in the first inning, a three-run shot to center field, while adding a double in the fifth. She also finished the contest with a game-high three RBI.
Senior first baseman Taylor Rager (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) also had a strong showing in the batter’s box, going 3-for-3 with a double and home run of her own, a solo shot in the fourth inning. Rager also drew a walk and score two runs.
Sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) also belted a solo blast in the fourth inning, while starting inning-ending, rally-killing double plays on defense in the bottom of the third and fourth innings.
The Cardinals came out of the gates strong in the top of the first, racking up seven runs on three hits to take a commanding 7-0 edge. Junior right fielder Loren Cihlar (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North) opened the game with a walk and proceeded to steal second and third. After a walk to Dabkowski, a wild pitch brought home Cihlar and helped Dabkowski advance to third.
Ball State’s second run crossed the plate on an Alabama A&M error on a fly from senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney). Rager followed with a walk, setting up a three-run blast from Bickel.
After a Lady Bulldog’s pitching change, the hosts on the scoreboard recorded the first out of the inning. However, a walk to freshman catcher Shelbie Scamihorn (Terra Haute, Ind./South Vigo) and a double from sophomore shortstop Selena Reyna (Houston, Texas/South Houston) put runners at second and third.
Sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Union) drove in BSU’s sixth run of the inning with an infield single to third, while a groundout from Cihlar drove in the seventh and final run of the frame.
After being held off the scoreboard in the second and third innings, the Cardinals struck for three more runs in the top of the fourth, extending their lead to 10-0. Dabkowski led off the frame with a first-pitch solo blast, while Rager followed two batters later with a solo home run of her own.
An infield single from Bickel followed, while a pinch hit double from freshman Hayley Cruthers (Swartz Creek, Mich./Swartz Creek) put runners at second and third. In her first collegiate at bat, freshman pinch hitter Taylor Cooley (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) recorded her first career RBI with a groundout to shortstop to cap the scoring in the inning and give BSU a 10-0 edge.
Evans opened the fifth inning with a stand-up triple to left field and came around for score on a pinch hit single from junior Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan). With Stuedemann standing on third after a fielder’s choice and double play, Rager sliced a RBI single to right field giving Ball State a 12-0 lead.