Redbirds Split with Boston, No. 12 Michigan
Feb. 24, 2012
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Illinois State softball team split a pair of games with Boston and No. 12/12 Michigan Friday afternoon on the opening day of competition at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla., at the Eddie C. Moore Complex. The Redbirds topped Boston, 12-8, before falling in a pitcher's duel, 3-1, to the Wolverines.
Junior Elizabeth Kay led the ISU offense on the day by going 3-for-6 with a double and an RBI and three runs scored. Freshman Stephanie Gallant doubled twice in four plate appearances and junior Jhavon Hamilton recorded a pair of doubles with an RBI and three runs scored.
In the opener, the Redbirds plated a run in the top of the first when junior Caiti Kopp was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, after Boston starter Erin Schuppert issued three-straight two-out walks. Illinois State took a 3-0 lead in its half of the third on a sacrifice fly by senior Liz Andrews and an RBI single by sophomore Laura Canopy.
The Terriers evened the score at 3-3, taking advantage of a pair of defensive miscues by the Redbirds in the bottom of the third. BU scored a pair of two-out runs on a throwing error, before Emily Roesch singled up the middle to tie the game.
Illinois State responded with six runs on four hits and a pair of BU errors in the fourth to regain the lead at 9-3. Hamilton and Andrews each drove in a run, before Gallant drilled a double down the right field line that plated Canopy and Kay. Kopp scampered home on a wild pitch to cap the scoring in the frame.
Boston answered back with two runs in its half of the inning to cut the Redbird lead to 9-5 after four. Melanie Delgado led off the inning by reaching on a Redbird error and the Terriers would capitalize on Chelsea O'Connor's two-out, two-run homer to center.
Freshman Kelsey Turcyzn notched her first-career hit in the fifth, driving in a pair of runs with a pinch-hit single to center, as pair of a three-hit inning to pushed the Illinois State advantage to 11-5. Hamilton led off the frame with a double to right and Andrews followed with an infield single, before Turcyzn's doubled three batters later.
BU battled back with three runs in the bottom of the six on RBI singles by Erica Casacci and Megan Volpano, but the Redbirds would plate another run in the top of the seven on a sacrifice fly by Kopp and starter Megan Warner closed out the game for the win in the circle.
Warner allowed just three earned runs in the victory to improve to 3-0 on the season. The senior righty issued just one walk and worked around 13 hits and four ISU errors to pick up the win.
In the nightcap, Redbird starter Jordan Birch tossed a gem, but ended up on the losing end of a pitcher's duel with Michigan starter Haylie Wagner.
Illinois State opened the scoring on Kay's RBI double in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. The Wolverines scored all three of their runs in the top of the third on a three-run home run by Amanda Chidester. Bree Evans and Nicole Sappingfield hit back-to-back one-out singles before Chidester's shot over the left field fence.
Both pitchers then settled in and held the opposition scoreless the rest of the way as Michigan came away with a 3-1 win.
The Redbirds' best chance to even the score came in their half of the fifth as Kopp led off the inning with a single and redshirt sophomore Nichelle Harrison gave ISU a second base runner with a one-out single through the middle. After Gallant popped out for the second out of the inning, junior Lauren Kellar singled to first, but junior Shelby Music, who was pinch running for Kopp, was cut down at the plate after Wolverine first baseman Ashley Lane collected a poorly thrown ball and made the play at the plate.
Birch fell to 4-3 on the year after being saddled with the loss. The senior righty struck out three Michigan hitters and scattered seven hits in defeat. Wagner improved to a perfect 5-0 on the season, giving up just four hits with eight strikeouts.
Illinois State will continue the NFCA Leadoff Classic with a pair of games against No. 10 Tennessee and South Florida Saturday. The Redbirds are slated to play the Lady Volunteers at 9:30 a.m. CST and the Bulls later in the day at 2:30 p.m. CST.
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