BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - - The Ball State softball team ended both the road and non-conference portions of its 2014 regular season with a doubleheader split at Indiana Wednesday evening.
After suffering a 3-2 loss in the opener, the Cardinals rebounded for a 6-3 win in the nightcap to improve to 24-15 entering Friday’s 1 pm home doubleheader against Akron. The Hoosiers move to 13-30-1 with the split.
“Anytime you can pick up a win over an in-state rival and Big Ten opponent it’s a good day,” Ball State head coach Tyra Perry said. “I thought Kelsey did another good job in the circle. She had solid command of her pitches and did a great job working in and around the strike zone. On offense, we were able to string together some quality at bats at the end of the second game, including another big hit from Emily. Emily is locked in right now and has provided us with several big hits over the last few weeks.”
For the second time in five games, sophomore second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) came up with a clutch seventh-inning hit, blasting a game-winning three-run home run in the nightcap versus Indiana. With two outs in the seventh inning of last Friday’s win at Northern Illinois, she posted her first career grand slam to secure the win for the Cardinals. For the season, Dabkowski has accounted for 11 game-winning runs, including scoring the winning run six times and adding five game-winning RBI.
Senior left fielder Jennifer Gilbert (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) led the Cardinals at the plate over the two games, going 4-for-7 with her 72nd career home run and her 60th career double, both in Ball State’s 6-3 victory. With her four hits, she upped her career hit total to 263 which is a program record.
In addition to Dabkowski and Gilbert, senior third baseman Audrey Bickel (Munster, Ind./Andrean) also tallied a home run on the day, with a two-run shot in the fourth inning of the opener. Bickel also collected a pair of doubles in the second game to finish the day 3-for-7.
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GAME ONE RECAP: Indiana 3 – Ball State 2
The Ball State defense was the story of the game early, as the Cardinals recorded double plays in both the first and second innings. The biggest of the two twin killings came in the second, when IU had bases loaded with one out and Dabkowski collected a grounder, tagged the runner and flipped the ball to first to end the inning.
However, a pair of BSU defensive miscues in the bottom of the third helped the host Hoosiers post three runs on the scoreboard. With runners at first and second with no outs, a BSU error on a sacrifice bunt attempt led to the first run. With runners on the corners, an errant throw on a stolen base helped the second IU run score from third. CaraMia Tsirigos followed with a RBI single to right field to drive in the final run of the inning.
Trailing 3-0 entering the fourth, Gilbert reached on an error to open the inning. Bickel made IU pay of the mistake, launching a two-run homer deep left field wall, cutting the Hoosiers advantage to 3-2.
Unfortunately, those were the only two runs the Cardinals would score in the game, as IU pitcher Lora Olsen would limit the Cardinals to just two hits over the final three innings to secure the victory. In picking up her fifth win of the season, Olsen (5-13) held Ball State to two runs (one earned) and five hits for the game, while compiling five strikeouts.
Sophomore pitcher Nicole Steinbach (Merrillville, Ind./Andrean) took the loss in the circle for Ball State, falling to 10-8 after allowing three runs (two earned) and eight hits, while striking out four batters.
GAME TWO RECAP: Ball State 6 – Indiana 3
After three scoreless innings, the Cardinals took their first lead of the doubleheader in the top of the fourth thanks to the bat of Gilbert. Dabkowski opened the inning with a single through the left side, setting up a two-run rocket shot over the left field wall from Gilbert. It was her 16th home run of the season and the 72nd of her career.
Bickel followed Gilbert’s blast with a double, and scored three batters later on a single to right from freshman catcher Shelbie Scamihorn (Terre Haute, Ind./South Vigo) which was misplayed by the IU fielder allowing Bickel to cross the plate.
The Hoosiers countered with a two-out solo home run from Kelsey Dotson in the bottom of the inning for their first run of the game. Indiana would tie the score in the next frame, scoring runs on a RBI double from Brianna Meyer and a two-out RBI single from Michelle Huber.
After a scoreless sixth, the Cardinals got another big swing from Dabkowski, who deposited a three-run homer over the left-center field wall to give BSU a 6-3 advantage. With one out, sophomore center fielder Briana Evans (Tulsa, Okla./Union) reached on an error, while senior pinch hitter Lauren Schroeder (Greenfield, Ind./New Palestine) followed with an infield single to set up Dabkowski’s game-clinching homer.
Sophomore Kelsey Schifferdecker (Belton, Mo./Belton) earned the win in the circle for Ball State, improving to 11-5 this season by holding the Hoosiers to three runs and 12 hits over seven innings of work. She also struck out three batters, all in the second inning.