Redbirds Split Twin Bill at MVC-Leading Drake
April 22, 2011
DES MOINES, Iowa - The Illinois State softball team trailed Drake by one game in the Missouri Valley Conference standings entering Friday afternoon's contests in Des Moines, Iowa, and remains one game back after splitting a doubleheader with the Bulldogs. Drake (30-16, 15-2 MVC) rallied late to earn a 4-3 win in the opener, before the Redbirds (29-14, 14-3 MVC) rebounded with a 5-1 victory in the nightcap.
ISU combined to hit four home runs in the twin bill, with four different Illinois State players clearing the fences. Sophomore Elizabeth Kay belted her 13th home run of the year with a three-run blast in the opener, while junior Caiti Kopp, sophomore Jhavon Hamilton and redshirt freshman Sara Bradley all homered in the nightcap.
Senior Kara Nelson extended her hit streak to 20 games, slapping a single in through the left side in game one, and delivering a RBI single in game two. Junior Megan Warner allowed just three hits and struck out seven, earning the victory in the nightcap to improve her record to 11-6 on the season.
GAME 1 SUMMARY
The Redbirds and Bulldogs struggled to produce any kind of offense early in the contest, as ISU starter Jordan Birch and Drake starter Jenna DeLong efficiently worked their way through the opposing lineups through the first five innings.
DeLong homered to lead off the bottom of the first to give Drake a 1-0 lead. Birch then proceeded to retire 14 of the next 16 hitters she faced, before both offenses found their stride in the sixth.
Nelson led off the ISU sixth with a single through the left side and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Lauren Kellar. Senior Abby Olson was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second, before Kay drilled a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left center to give Illinois State a 3-1 lead.
The Bulldogs responded in the bottom of frame to retie the score at 3-3. DeLong reached on a one out single through the middle and came around to score on Torey Craddock's two-run homer to deep center.
The Redbirds stranded a runner on in the top of the seventh and the Bulldogs capitalized in the bottom half of the inning. Mollie McClelland singled to lead off the inning and Mollie Silliman entered to pinch run for McClelland at first. Nicole Randel followed with one-out single and Sam West gave the Bulldogs a 4-3, walk-oof win, after looping an RBI double to left and scoring Silliman.
Birch dropped to 13-3 on the season with the loss, allowing seven hits and striking out six in her 6.1 innings of work.
GAME 2 SUMMARY
Illinois State struck first in the nightcap, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on Bradley's solo home run to left center. However, Drake got the run back in its half of the frame on Erin Mollohan's solo homer over the wall in center.
The Redbirds regained the lead in the top of the fifth, getting a one-out RBI from Nelson to take a 2-1 advantage. ISU threatened to score more, putting runners on second and third, before DeLong came in to relive Drake starter Brynne Dordel and fanned a pair of Illinois State hitters to end the threat.
ISU used the long ball to tack on three more in the top of sixth. Kopp hit a one-out blast to left field to jump start the inning and Hamilton followed just two batters later, hitting a two-run shot off the scoreboard in right center, extending the Redbird lead to 5-1.
Warner worked through the Drake lineup in the sixth and seventh, allowing just on base runner on an Illinois State fielder error to earn her 11th victory of the season and pulling ISU back within one game of the Bulldogs in the MVC standings.
Illinois State and Drake will wrap up the three-game set Saturday afternoon with the rubber match scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. at Buel Field.
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