Two Redbird Rallies Fall Short Against UMass and No. 12 Louisiana-Lafayette
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Feb. 23, 2013UMass Box Score | ULL Box Score | Fischer Postgame Interview | Tournament Central
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Illinois State softball team (6-8) erased deficits in both of their games Saturday afternoon at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla., but still wound up dropping two games on the day. ISU fell, 4-3, to UMass in the morning, before losing, 8-5, to No. 12 Louisiana-Lafayette in the afternoon.
Jhavon Hamilton and Laura Canopy each hit home runs against the Ragin' Cajuns, with Canopy's grand slam putting ISU up, 5-4, in the fourth inning. Stephanie Gallant, Kolby Hoffman and Shelby Music each picked up a RBI in the loss to the Minutewomen.
UMass 4, Illinois State 3
In a rematch of the thrilling NCAA Regional game from a season ago that the Redbirds won, 1-0, in nine innings, UMass' Tiffany Meeks hit a three-run home run in the third inning that proved too much for ISU to overcome. A single and an error by Lindsey Greene at shortstop put two runners on for Meeks, who hit a 0-1 pitch from Regan Romshek (LP, 2-5) over the fence in left field to break a 1-1 tie.
Illinois State fought back within one by scoring twice in the fifth inning. Canopy and Elizabeth Kay led off with singles, before Stephanie Gallant walked one batter later to load the bases. Shelby Music, receiving her first start since March 13, 2011, walked with the bases loaded to score pinch runner Kaitlyn Knary. Hoffman followed with a fielder's choice that drove in Kay and made it 4-3, but a diving Nichelle Harrison was narrowly thrown out at first base on a grounder to second that ended the threat.
Each team scored once in the top of the first inning. UMass grabbed the early lead on a two-out RBI double from Meeks, before Gallant's two-out RBI single through the hole on the right side scored Hamilton to even the game in the first.
ISU matched a season-low in the contest with four hits. The Redbirds also stranded 10 runners, including leaving the bases loaded in both the first and fourth innings.
Romshek threw 5.0 innings, and allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits, while striking out eight and walking two. Sophia Perez (ND) relieved Romshek after one UMass batter in the sixth, keeping the Minutewomen at bay with 2.0 perfect innings.
No. 12 Louisiana-Lafayette 8, Illinois State 5
ISU stood toe-to-toe with the 12th-ranked Ragin' Cajuns for the majority of the contest, holding two leads. However, a three-run fifth inning broke a 5-5 tie and sent ISU to their third loss in four games.
Erin Rodriguez (LP, 1-1), who entered in relief of starter Taylor Baxter (ND) in the second inning, was chased from the game after giving up a two-out RBI single to All-American shortstop Nerissa Myers that broke the deadlock. Perez (ND) relived Rodriguez, and promptly gave up a two-run homer to Brianna Cherry that easily cleared the fence in left field to make it 8-5 ULL.
After erasing a three-run deficit in the seventh inning during Friday's game against No. 15 Michigan, the Redbirds had similar thoughts after pinch hitter Kelsey Turczyn was hit by a pitch and Sara Bradley walked to lead off the seventh. However, ULL starter Jordan Wallace struck out Brittny Drish, Gallant and Harrison to secure the victory.
ISU's first lead of the game came when Hamilton homered down the right field line on the first pitch of the contest. The Ragin' Cajuns responded with four runs in the second against Baxter, who was hampered by numerous illegal pitch calls for the second time this season. Rodriguez came in for Baxter with two outs and a runner on first, and surrendered a double before ending the inning.
Harrison's diving catch in right field with the bases loaded in the third kept it a three-run game and set the stage for ISU to regain the lead in the fourth inning. Hoffman, Harrison and Hamilton loaded the bases, before Canopy took Wallace's 1-2 pitch over the wall in right for the her first home run and the Redbirds' first grand slam of the season. The 5-4 lead would be short-lived, however, as Matte Haack's solo home run against Rodriguez in the bottom half of the fourth tied the game before the three-run fifth sealed the ISU defeat.
The Redbirds conclude play at the NFCA Leadoff Classic with two more games Sunday. ISU takes on UC Davis at 9:30 a.m., CST, before facing No. 14/17 South Florida at 10:30 a.m., CST.
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