- - It was a great ending to the 2018 home season, as the Ball State softball team celebrated senior day with a pair of 2-1 wins over Central Michigan Saturday afternoon in Mid-American Conference action at the Softball Field at First Merchants Ballpark Complex.
In snapping a six-game losing streak to the Chippewas (19-20; 9-8 MAC), the Cardinals improved to 29-16 overall and moved to 11-6 in league play.
With six games remaining in the conference season, the Cardinals head into next weekend's series at Eastern Michigan holding the third spot in the MAC standings trailing just Ohio (15-2 MAC) and Toledo (14-3 MAC).
In a day built around honoring the team's five seniors, it was sophomore reliever Alyssa Rothwell
who stole the show as she locked down the victory in the opener and tied the MAC single season saves record in the nightcap with her eighth save of the year.
Rothwell pitched the final 3.2 innings to pick up the win in the opener, entering the game with bases loaded and one out in the top of the fourth. She was able to limit CMU to just one run in working out of the jam, while holding the Chippewas to just a pair of walks and striking out three to pick up her fifth win of the year.
In the nightcap, she entered the game with runners on the corners and two outs in the sixth. She responded by getting a foul fly to end the inning, before retiring three of the four batters she faced in the seventh to tie the MAC single season save record with her eight of the year.
Ball State's seniors also made a big impact in the wins, led by second baseman Maddy Labrador
who blasted what proved to be the game-winning home run in the nightcap with a solo blast in the third inning.
FROM COACH BARTLETT:
"The pitchers battled tough today. They did a great job keeping the Chippewas hitters off balance, hitting their spots and just all around had really good command of the zone.
"Alyssa does a tremendous job spinning the ball. Her rise ball is an elite-level pitch and we use it over and over again. Even when it's in the zone, it's a really tough pitch to hit and gives batters fits.
"I thought we did a better job of not expanding the zone today. We swung a little bit looser, and Maddy Labrador
just crushed that home run in the second game. Any time we can come up with some clutch extra-base hits, we are a really tough team to beat.
"Overall, I thought our seniors did a tremendous job leading the team today. They helped carry us to a pair of victories against a tough Central Michigan team. I could not be prouder of the effort they put forward on their senior day."
BREAKING DOWN GAME 1: Ball State 2 - Central Michigan 1
• Central Michigan had a chance to break the game open early, loading the bases with two outs in the top of the first inning. However, senior pitcher Carolyn Wilmes
left them loaded with her second strikeout of the inning.
• Ball State then took advantage of a pair of Chippewas defensive miscues in the bottom of the second inning, scoring a pair of unearned runs.
• The inning started with back-to-back walks to sophomore center fielder Kennedy Wynn
and senior first baseman Danae King
. Senior Brittany Hopper
then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners and managed to reach base herself as a CMU throwing error on the play allowed Wynn to score from second.
• Two batters later, Maddy Labrador
reached on a fielding error by the CMU shortstop, but managed to bring home King from third in the process, to give Ball State a 2-0 advantage.
• That was all the run support the Ball State pitching staff would need, as CMU was able to score just one run on a bases loaded walk with one out in the fourth.
• Wilmes threw the first 3.1 innings for Ball State, limiting the Chippewas to four hits and one run, while striking out three. She was able to work out of bases loaded jams in both the first and third innings without allowing a run.
• Sophomore Alyssa Rothwell
earned the win, her fifth of the season, but hurling the final 3.2 innings and allowing just two walks. She also struck out three batters.
BREAKING DOWN GAME 2: Ball State 2 - Central Michigan 1
• Ball State jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the nightcap, as another Central Michigan error helped the Cardinals score the first run of the game.
• Senior second baseman Maddy Labrador
opened the inning with a double to right-center field and came around to score when an error on a single to the right side by sophomore Haley Dominique
allowed her to advance home.
• The score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the third, when Labrador blasted a 1-0 pitch deep over the fence in left center field for her 10th home run of the season, giving Ball State a 2-0 lead.
• Once again, that would be all the run support Ball State's pitchers would need, as the Chippewas managed just one run on a fifth-inning RBI single from Rachel Vieira.
• Junior Aeshia Miles
picked up the pitching win for the Cardinals, improving to 15-8 on the year by holding the Chippewas to six hits and one earned run over 5.2 innings. She also struck out three batters in the contest.
• Sophomore closer Alyssa Rothwell
entered the game with runners on the corners and two outs in the top of the sixth and retired four of the five batters she faced to lock up her eighth save of the season, which ties the MAC single season record.
The Ball State softball team returns to the road this weekend with a three-game series at Eastern Michigan. The Cardinals and Eagles will square off in a 3 p.m. game Friday and a 1 p.m. doubleheader Saturday.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For the most up-to-date news on Ball State softball, follow the team on Twitter: @BallStateSB, @CoachCBartlett & @BallStateSports / Instagram: ballstatesb / Facebook: BallStateSB.