Redbirds Split Doubleheader at SIU
March 31, 2012
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Illinois State softball team split a doubleheader with in-state rival Southern Illinois in Missouri Valley Conference action Saturday afternoon at Charlotte West Stadium in Carbondale, Ill. The Redbirds won their fifth-straight game with a 5-0 win in game one, before falling, 6-1, in the nightcap.
Senior Jordan Birch notched her sixth shutout of the season in the opener, scattering five hits and striking out five without issuing a walk. In her last three starts, Birch is 3-0 in the circle and has fanned 23 opposing hitters without issuing a walk. The Monroe, Wash., native is now 12-8 on the season with a 1.88 ERA.
Offensively, sophomore Laura Canopy continued to swing a hot bat for ISU, going 4-for-8 with a run scored. Junior Lauren Kellar finished 2-for-5 with an RBI and fellow junior Jhavon Hamilton recorded a pair of hits and scored two runs in six at bats.
In the opener, Illinois State (20-14, 6-2 MVC) struck first, scoring a pair of runs on redshirt sophomore Sara Bradley's two-run double to right center that plated Canopy and freshman Lindsey Greene. An error by the SIU (19-9, 6-2 MVC) second baseman extended the frame and allowed a third Redbird run to score. Kellar followed the error with an RBI single to left and junior Elizabeth Kay capped the five-run inning with a single to left that scored Hamilton.
The five runs of support would be all that Birch would need, as she allowed just three hits over the final five innings and did not allow a Saluki base runner to advance past first base.
ISU had a chance to extend its lead in the top of the seventh, after back-to-back one out singles by senior Lizzie Andrews and Canopy, but Southern Illinois starter Katie Bertelsen induced a pair of fly outs to end the frame.
Illinois State struck first in the nightcap, taking advantage of a Saluki error to plate a run and grab a 1-0 lead. Hamilton led off the game with a single up the middle, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kellar and scored when a hard grounder off of Andrews' bat was mishandled by the SIU shortstop.
ISU starter Megan Warner pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the first, before surrendering the tying run in the bottom of the second. Meredith Wilson reached on an error to lead of SIU's half of the frame and moved into scoring position Jayna Spivey's sacrifice bunt. Kayln Harker delivered a two-out single to score Kara Kimball, who pinch ran for Wilson, and knot the score at 1-1.
SIU, who entered the series as the top-hitting team in the Valley, plated two more in the bottom of the fourth to open up a 3-1 lead. Morgan Barchan set the table with a one-out single and Harker walked to give the Salukis a pair of base runners with just one out. Kelsea Ashton drove both in with a key two-out single and Warner was lifted after 3.2 innings following the second Redbird error. Freshman Sophia Perez came out of the bullpen to record the final out of the inning and limit the damage.
Illinois State had an opportunity to cut into the lead in its half of the sixth, as it loaded the bases with two outs. Canopy led off the inning with a single back up the middle, Bradley drew a walk and pinch hitter Kelsey Turczyn was hit by a pitch to fill the bags. However, ISU could not capitalize, as Alyssa Wunderlich came out of the bullpen and got Hamilton to ground out to end the threat.
Southern Illinois broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth, scoring three more runs to push its advantage to 6-1. Ashton drove her in third run of the game with a one-out single that chased Perez from the circle and Allie VadeBoncouer capped the scoring with a two-run single off ISU reliever Taylor Baxter.
The Redbirds loaded the bases once again in their half of the seventh, but were unable to come up with the big hit, as Wunderlich closed out the game and recorded her first save of the season. On the game, the ISU stranded 12 base runners, including six in its final two at bats.
Warner suffered the loss and fell to 7-5 on the year, allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits in 3.2 innings. Brittney Lang claimed the victory for SIU, improving her record to 5-3 to 5.2 innings of work.
The Redbirds and Salukis will decide the series in the rubber match tomorrow at noon.
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