Redbirds Lose to No. 15 Michigan in Extras, Top Hofstra
Nichelle Harrison went a combined 5-for-8 with five runs on the day
Nichelle Harrison went a combined 5-for-8 with five runs on the day

Feb. 22, 2013

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CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Illinois State softball team (6-6) opened the NFCA Leadoff Classic by splitting a pair of games with teams that made the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament last season, falling to No. 15 Michigan, 11-9, in 10 innings, before beating Hofstra, 3-2, Friday at the Eddie C. Moore Complex.

Jhavon Hamilton led the way offensively for ISU, going a combined 4-for-8 with four RBI, all coming with two outs. Nichelle Harrison recorded two multi-hit games, going 3-for-5 with three runs against the Wolverines and 2-for-3 with two runs against the Pride. After going 1-for-5 in the first game, reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week Elizabeth Kay's team-best nine-game hitting streak came to an end with a 0-for-3 game against the Pride.

Taylor Baxter turned in her first seven-inning complete game of the season against Hofstra, allowing two earned runs, six hits and three walks, while striking out a season-high five. Baxter also tossed a scoreless inning of relief against the Wolverines. Regan Romshek battled through 8.1 innings against Michigan, the most for a freshman since current pitching coach Shannon Nicholson threw 11.0 innings, March 14, 2004, against Kansas.

No. 15 Michigan 11, Illinois State 9 (10 inn.)

The Redbirds opened the tournament with a back-and-forth contest against the Wolverines (8-2) that featured season lead changes and three ties. After coming back in potentially their final at bat in the seventh and ninth innings, a three-spot in the top half of the 10th proved too much for ISU to overcome.

With international tiebreaker rules in effect, Sierra Lawrence began the inning on second base. She advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Lyndsay Doyle, before scoring on a single up the middle from Nicolle Sappingfield against Romshek (LP, 2-4) that gave the Wolverines their fifth and final lead. Two batters later, Sierra Romero hit a two-run homer, making it 11-8 Wolverines heading into the bottom of the 10th. ISU pulled back within two when Laura Canopy scored on a RBI groundout from Stephanie Gallant, but Brittny Drish struck out swinging to end the game one batter later.

Each team scored once in the ninth, as Hamilton brought home Kolby Hoffman from second with two outs to keep ISU alive. Hamilton also keyed ISU's rally in the seventh. Down 7-4 after surrendering a one-run lead by giving up four runs in the top half of the inning, Hamilton doubled with two outs down the right field line to score Romshek and Hoffman and bring the Redbirds back within one. Canopy's grounder to Romero at short was misplayed, allowing Harrison to score and tie the game at 7-7.

Michigan began the scoring in the top of the first with a RBI single from Sara Driesenga. The Redbirds took the lead with lone tallies in the first and second, as Hamilton scored on a RBI single from Gallant and Harrison stole home as part of a double steal. The Wolverines regained the advantage, 3-2, with two runs in the fourth, before ISU scored two in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead heading into the seventh. Canopy singled up the middle with two outs to drive home Harrison and Lauren Kellar, before ISU lost its first seventh-inning lead of the season, as Michigan scored four in the top of the seventh to take a 7-4 lead.

Michigan pitcher Sara Driesenga (WP, 7-1), after throwing a complete game in the Wolverines' win over No. 12 Louisiana-Lafayette, tossed all 10.0 innings in the win. The Redbirds did get to the sophomore All-Big Ten performer for a career-high nine runs and 14 hits. Romshek surrendered 11 runs (eight earned) in her outing, walking a career-high six and striking out two.

The Redbirds turned their first triple play since April 25, 2010, at Missouri State. With runners on first and second in the fifth, Romshek caught a sinking line drive off the bat of Amy Knapp. She threw to first base to retire Caitlin Blanchard, before Canopy threw over to Hoffman at second to get pinch-runner Jaclyn Crummey and complete the triple play.

Illinois State 3, Hofstra 2

The Redbirds rallied once again in the nightcap to get back to .500. Down 2-0 entering the fifth inning against All-American pitcher Olivia Galati (LP, 3-3), ISU pushed across three two-out runs. Lindsey Greene reached on an error with one out, before Harrison hit an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error. Kellar drove home Greene and Harrison with a single to the right side, giving her nine RBI in the last three games and tying the game, 2-2. Hamilton then singled through the right side to give ISU a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

Baxter (WP, 3-2) set the Pride down in order just once, but held Hofstra in check until the ISU offense awoke. A solo home run from Tessa Ziemba in the second inning opened the scoring, while Maggie Hawkins hit a RBI single in the fourth to make it a 2-0 Hofstra lead. The Pride got two runners on base in the seventh with two outs, but Bigler was caught stealing 2-3-4 to end the contest, as Hoffman chased down Bigler and applied the tag.

The two-run deficit equals the largest this season that ISU has come back from to win.

The Redbirds continue play with two more games on Saturday. ISU takes on UMass at 9:30 a.m., CST, before facing No. 12Louisiana-Lafayette at 12 p.m., CST. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.