Melinda Fischer Gets Career Win No. 800; Redbirds Sweep Sycamores
April 1, 2009
NORMAL, Ill. - Redbird head softball coach Melinda Fischer picked up her 800th-career win as a collegiate head coach after the Illinois State softball team (16-14, 4-4 Missouri Valley Conference) swept a Missouri Valley Conference doubleheader against Indiana State (8-15, 2-6 MVC), 5-0 and 3-1, Wednesday afternoon at Marian Kneer Softball Stadium.
With the sweep, Fischer became the first Missouri Valley Conference softball coach to record 800 career victories and the 25th to do so at the NCAA Division I level. She is the 40th collegiate softball head coach at any NCAA level to record 800 wins in a career.
"I do not know what to say," said Fischer. "It is the effort of many people, and I have been blessed to be around many talented people in my career. I think if you surround yourself with good people, good things happen. We have been up and down this season. So, I really did not even realize that it had happened until they announced it after the game."
Fischer now has 768 wins at Illinois State over a 24-year coaching career (1986-present). Prior to coaching at Illinois State, Fischer picked up 32 wins as the head coach at Eastern Illinois from 1979-80. Fischer is Illinois State's all-time winningest coach for any sport, is The Valley's winningest coach in softball (total victories and conference-only games), and is the sixth-winningest coach all-time in the Missouri Valley Conference for all conference-sponsored sports.
Senior Amber Smith, the reigning State Farm MVC Pitcher of the Week, pitched Illinois State to its 5-0 win in game one and improved to 6-7 on the season with her second-straight complete-game victory. Smith gave up just four hits in the game, one shy of her season-low, and struck out five. The shutout win was her first of the season and Illinois State's fourth overall.
Freshman Jordan Birch was extra sharp in the circle for Illinois State in game two. She improved to 8-6 on the season and struck out a career-high 13 batters (tied for The Valley high this season).
Indiana State's Darcy Wood earned the loss in both games. Wood (5-9) came in to pitch in relief of starter Meagn McCurdy in game one and gave up five runs (two earned) on five hits. In game two, she allowed three earned runs over six innings in the 3-1 loss.
Illinois State was led at the plate by sophomore third baseman Abby Olson, who went 3-for-6 on the day with two RBI and two runs scored, including a clutch two-run home run in game two. Jessie Buker was the offensive catalyst for the Redbirds in game one after she went 2-for-2 in the game with two RBI and a run scored.
RECAP: Illinois State 5, Indiana State 0 | Box Score
Illinois State's own scoring opportunity in the bottom half of the second was spoiled by Indiana State pitcher Meagan McCurdy. After ISU put two of its first three runners on base, McCurdy got a fielder's choice, a strikeout and a groundout to end the Redbird scoring threat.
The Redbirds appeared to break the scoring stalemate in the bottom of the fourth inning. After Buker led off the inning with a double into right field, a fly ball into deep right field off the bat of Mathis was caught by the Sycamore right fielder, who fell down making the play, which allowed Buker to tag up from second base and score what looked to be Illinois State's first run of the game. The third-base umpire ruled that Buker had left second base early and ruled her out.
The game remained scoreless until an error by the Indiana State second base led to three Illinois State runs in the inning. After Illinois State placed a runner on first base, Smith grounded a ball back to the Sycamore shortstop, who threw over to the Indiana State second baseman to attempt the force out, but she dropped the throw, and the Redbirds had two runners on base with no outs in the inning.
Olson then delivered the first run of the game with a line-drive RBI single down the left field line. Buker gave Illinois State two more insurance runs when she doubled over the centerfielder's head to plate two more runners for the Redbirds, and then shortstop Niki Stansell's two-RBI single into center field pushed the Illinois State lead to 5-0.
RECAP: Illinois State 3, Indiana State 1 | Box Score
Game two began as another pitcher's duel, with Birch and Wood locked in a scoreless battle until the bottom of the fourth inning. That's when Olson came through in the clutch again for Illinois State, as she delivered her team-high sixth home run of the season - a solo shot - over the left-center field fence to give ISU a 1-0 lead.
Illinois State's lead was short-lived, however, as Indiana State pinch hitter Britt Boyer delivered a two-out RBI double in the top of the fifth inning that bounced just in front of Mathis in centerfield and tied the game, 1-1.
Illinois State will resume Missouri Valley Conference action Saturday and Sunday when it plays host to Missouri State for a three-game conference series. First pitch of Saturday's doubleheader at Marian Kneer Softball Stadium is slated for noon.
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