Smith's One-Hitter Leads ISU Over Bradley; Redbirds Split Day Two of Fall Classic
Sept. 9, 2007
NORMAL, Ill. - Dominating pitching performances marked the second day of the Illinois State Fall Classic at Champion Fields in Normal Sunday. In ISU's first game of the day, defending Division II National Champion Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (SIU-E), led by pitcher Kaitlin Colosimo, shut down the Redbird offense, allowing ISU (3-1) just three hits in a 3-2 Cougar victory. The Redbirds' second game of the day against Missouri Valley Conference foe Bradley went much differently for ISU, as junior pitcher Amber Smith produced one of the best pitching performances of her ISU career, throwing a one-hitter to down the Braves, 4-0.
Junior catcher Casey Gorrell had a stellar game defensively against SIU-E, throwing out two Cougar runners in key situations. Gorrell gunned down Lindsay Longfellow trying to steal second base in the top of the third inning, before throwing out Lindsey Liermann at second base to end the fifth.
Illinois State head coach Melinda Fischer felt that her team's offense throughout the day was not as good as it was Saturday, when the Redbirds scored 18 runs in two games.
"Offensively, we didn't make good enough adjustments during the first game," said Fischer. "Coming back to get two runs was good, but I give credit to Colosimo for mixing her pitches well. In the second game, I think we had better at bats and made some adjustments, but we didn't get the production, and that's something that we'll work on this week at practice."
SIU-E scored first, plating three runs in the top of the first inning. Lindsay Longfellow drove in the first Cougar run on a single through the left side that scored Lauren Zembruski. After ISU starting pitcher Chrissy Burton gave up a single to Kaeleigh Rousey, the Cougars' Mallory Ruggles brought in two more runs with a single just past the glove of Smith, who was playing at first base, that plated Ashley Price and Longfellow, and gave SIU-E an early 3-0 lead.
ISU went scoreless through the first three innings before breaking through in the bottom of the fourth with two runs. With third baseman Kara Nelson on first after reaching on an error, Smith came to the plate and drove a pitch deep into right center field that initially touched the SIU-E center fielder's glove before being tipped over the fence for a two-run home run, cutting the Cougar lead to 3-2.
Smith's two-run home run was the only offense that ISU could muster against SIU-E, as the Redbirds went scoreless in the final three innings, losing their first game of the fall season.
After going five full innings, while allowing three runs on 10 hits, Burton gave way to Smith, who came in to pitch with a runner on first in the top of the sixth inning. Smith once again proved to be strong pitcher for the `Birds, going two full innings, while not allowing a Cougar run. Burton took the loss for ISU, her first of the season.
Fischer thought that her pitching tandem of Burton and Smith performed consistently and kept the `Birds in the game.
"After the first inning, Chrissy settled down and started hitting her locations better," said Fischer. "Amber then came in to pitch, and she did a very good job for us."
ISU's game against Bradley was a true pitcher's duel, as Smith went up against Bradley ace Ashley Birdsong. Neither pitcher was willing to allow the other team's offense much in the way of runs or hits, with Smith throwing a complete game, one-hit shutout. Birdsong was equally impressive through her first four innings of work, allowing just three Redbird hits, before giving up three ISU runs on four hits in the bottom of the fifth inning.
ISU first baseman Michelle Henderson broke the duel first, driving a Birdsong pitch over the left field fence in the bottom of the second inning for a solo home run to give ISU its first lead of the day at 1-0. The Redbirds threatened once more later in the inning. With a runner on first, right fielder Diciembre Vaca lined a ball into left center field that looked like it was on its way to being a run-scoring double. However, Bradley center fielder Stephanie Ramsey tracked the ball down and made a diving catch to keep the score at 1-0 ISU.
In the top of the fifth inning, Bradley began to nip away at Smith, advancing a runner to third base for the first time in the game. After Jessie Musgrove led off the inning with a walk, Lauren Meister moved her over to second base with a sacrifice bunt back to Henderson. A groundout advanced Musgrove to third base, giving the Braves their first good scoring chance of the game. Smith battled back, striking out Lauren Kelly on a pitch high in the strike zone to end the Bradley threat.
Illinois State added three insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, getting to Birdsong with four hits. Three-straight singles by the Redbirds to begin the inning plated their second run of the game. Vaca, who was the first ISU hitter to single in the inning, came around to score on a Tiffany Prager RBI single. Two batters later, left fielder Jessie Buker broke the game open for ISU, driving in Prager and Nelson with a two-RBI single to secure a 4-0 ISU win.
Smith picked up her second win of the weekend in the circle, going seven full innings, while allowing just two walks and striking out eight.
Fischer was impressed with the mental and physical toughness of Smith.
"I thought that Amber did a great job in the circle and stayed tough throughout the first part of the game," said Fischer. "She weakened a little at the end but she had real key pitches when she needed to get out of a situation."
Illinois State returns to action Saturday in the Redbird Round Robin, a new event on the `Birds' fall schedule. ISU will face Heartland Community College and Western Illinois in games at Redbird Softball Complex. Sunday, ISU travels to the Orland Park Tournament in Orland, Ill., to face Kirkwood Community College, Indiana and DePaul.