Creighton Takes Pair from ISU, `Birds Drop Third Straight
April 21, 2007
OMAHA, Neb. - Creighton Takes Pair from ISU, `Birds Drop Third Straight Powerful pitching from Creighton pitchers Tara Oltman and Amanda Hess shut down the Redbird bats as the No. 18 Illinois State softball team dropped both games of Saturday's doubleheader to host Creighton, 5-3 and 8-6, in Omaha Neb. Freshman Kara Nelson led charge for the `Birds, finishing the day with a 6-for-7 effort and three RBI.
Suffering their first three-game losing streak of the season, the Redbirds move to 37-12 overall, 13-6 in Valley play. Creighton, still in the top stop in the league standings, improves to 32-10, 14-3 MVC.
Illinois State head coach Melinda Fischer was impressed with the consistent play from Nelson but surprised by her team's uncharacteristic play at the plate.
"Kara did everything she could for us today, you couldn't ask for more from a kid. She had a great day," said Fischer. "A lot of our strikeouts today were looking and that's not us. That is not characteristic of the way we have been playing. We have to do better in those situations. But Creighton pitched really well today and we just weren't ready for it. We're just not sharp right now on the things we need to be sharp on. At this point, it's a matter of taking care of your opportunities, taking care of that yellow ball and playing well. I think at times we played well, today but we didn't play two complete games."
Creighton used a pair of RBI singles to take an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Third baseman Jamie Reiss opened the inning by placing a bunt just in front of the plate and beating the play at first. Reiss scored when shortstop Bailey Dawson roped a single up the middle and settled into second on the throw home. Two batters later, designated player Caitlin Marcano hit a lazy one-hopper into center field to plate Dawson. Reiss and Dawson replicated the play in the third frame, when Reiss hit a single, advanced to second on a Jessica Wakasugi sacrifice bunt and scored when Dawson singled to left field. Dawson's second RBI of the game gave the Bluejays a 3-0 advantage.
Creighton starting pitcher Tara Oltman stunned the Redbird offensive lineup, as the freshman tossed to just four Redbird batters in each of the first four innings. Oltman struck out two batters in each of those frames and ended the game with 14 strikeouts, tying a career high.
Pinch hitter Kaycee Points took first after being hit by a Shannon Nicholson pitch and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by right fielder Lau Emmsley-Chang. Points then charged to third base as Nicholson tossed a wild pitch and scored a fourth run for Creighton when Michelle Koch, who struck out in her first at bat, smacked a single up the middle. Koch's hit was the fourth RBI single of the game for the Jays.
But Kaprice Williams finally responded for the Redbirds in the top of the fifth, launching a home run into left center field for her sixth long ball of the year. Williams solo shot brought the score to 4-1. With one out, Nelson slapped her third single of the game and took second when Tiffany Prager dropped a single into shallow left field. Prager's hit was the third of the inning for the `Birds, tying their prior hit total for the game. With runners on first and third, sophomore Amber Smith battled with Oltman to a full count and then earned the first walk of the game to load the bases. Senior Kelsey Warning then put a single up the middle, earning an RBI single as Nelson crossed. But two consecutive Oltman strikeouts ended the inning with three runners left on base and the score still in Creighton's favor, 4-2.
Jessica German opened the inning with a single to center field but quickly ended up on third when Renae Sinkler hit a ground rule double into center field. Sinkler's hit one-hopped over the fence to put Jays on second and third. The ensuing batter, Emmsley-Chang attempted a suicide squeeze but her bunt rolled foul. Retaking the batter's box, Emmsley-Chang hit a chopper to Redbird shortstop Kaprice Williams that the sophomore caught over her head on a bounce but Williams couldn't make a play as German scored, putting CU up, 5-2.
Nelson sent another home run over the fence in right field to open the seventh inning for Illinois State. The round tripper was the third of the season for the Redbird freshman and gave ISU 72 shots on the year. Nelson, the only ISU player to tally multiple hits, finished game one going a perfect 4-for-4 from the plate. But Oltman buckled down in the circle, tallying three consecutive strikeouts to end the game and pick up the Creighton win, 5-3.
Nicholson tabbed the loss in the first game, giving up ten hits and five runs in six complete innings. The senior struck out three batters.
In game two, Illinois State was the first on the board after Nelson opened the game with a double to deep center field. With two outs, Warning reached on an error by Bluejay shortstop Dawson and Nelson came around to score, giving the `Birds their first lead on the day, 1-0.
But that lead didn't last long as Creighton used a two out rally, fueled by five hits and a Redbird error to score four runs in the bottom of the second to take a 4-1 advantage. Catcher T. J. Eadus and Marcano added to that lead in the next frame, blasting back-to-back solo shots, taking a 6-1 lead. With those two homers, the Jays broke the school single season home run record and now have 45 on the year. Illinois State was forced to look to the bullpen, at that point, bringing in Smith for the starting Stacy Birk, who gave up six runs, five of which were earned, in two full innings of work.
The Redbirds got back on track in the top of the fourth, scoring three runs to pull within a pair, 6-4. With the bases loaded, Nelson hit a sacrifice fly to center field as pinch runner Andrea Shifflet crossed for Nelson's second RBI of the day. Prager then lined a single into right center field to plate Kaprice and Jackie Williams. The two-RBI single was the second of the day for the Redbird second baseman and increased her season RBI total to 24.
Points, again pinch running for Sinkler, who collected a double to open the bottom of the fifth, scored for Creighton on a Michelle Koch fielder's choice to put the Jays up, 7-4. But ISU tallied a pair of runs in their next at bat to pull within one, 7-6, with Nelson and Smith both collecting an RBI. The Bluejays proved pesky, however, adding a run in the sixth to put the score at 8-6 in favor of CU that held for the final score.
Birk shouldered the loss in game two, though all three Redbird pitchers made an appearance. The senior right hander gave up seven hits and six runs, five earned, while striking out two.
Looking to prevent the series sweep, the Redbirds will play the third game in the Creighton series at noon on Sunday at the Creighton Sports Complex.