ISU Softball Opens ICSC with Two-Shutout Wins

Sept. 29, 2012

NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State softball team opened the State Farm Illinois Collegiate Softball Championship by winning its first two games and earning a spot in Sunday's gold bracket. ISU topped Illinois-Springfield, 12-0, in five innings in its opener, before downing SIU-Edwardsville, 9-0, in six innings in the nightcap.

The Redbird pitching staff threw two shutouts, including a no-hitter by Taylor Baxter. Baxter struck out four and walked two in the no-hitter. Regan Romshek and Erin Rodriguez combined for the shutout in the first game, while Baxter tossed a complete-game shutout in the second game of the day. Romshek and Baxter were credited with the wins from the circle.

"Taylor did a great job," head coach Melinda Fischer said. "Anytime you can throw a no-hitter is an awesome experience. She had one rough inning where she walked a batter and hit a batter, but then she really settled into the game. Regan pitched in her first official game for the Redbirds, and Erin came in and did a great job in relief. Right now, they did as best as they could, and I thought they did well. They had decent location and were able to mix up their pitches."

Lauren Kellar led the Redbirds offensively, as she was a perfect 4-of-4 in the first game and was 2-of-4 in the batter's box in the second game. The senior center fielder had two doubles and a triple on the day. She also scored five runs with four coming in the first game.

"I was really pleased with our offensive production," Fischer said. "I thought we hit really well throughout the course of the game against Illinois-Springfield. We started out strong against Edwardsville and then had a lull, but we finished the game strong with some good hits. We also had solid production off of the bench, which is great to see anytime."

 

 

Game One Recap: Illinois State 12 - Illinois-Springfield 0

In the bottom of the first, Illinois State jumped out to a quick lead, as the Redbirds scored five runs. Kellar led things off for ISU with a single to shallow center field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Nichelle Harrison, while an Illinois-Springfield error allowed Harrison to safely reach second. Jhavon Hamilton tripled to the right field wall and drove in Kellar and Harrison to put Illinois State on the board first. Elizabeth Kay walked and stole second to put runners in scoring position, while a single through the right side by Stephanie Gallant scored Hamilton and Kay to increase ISU's lead to four. Gallant moved over to third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Lindsey Greene, 5-0.

ISU's half of the second inning started like the first, as Kellar singled to first and stole second to get into scoring position. With runners on first and second, Kay singled up the middle and pushed Kellar across to add another run to the scoreboard, 6-0. In the third, Kellar doubled and later scored from second to give ISU a 7-0 advantage.

The Redbirds continued to add runs to their side of the board in the fourth, as Illinois State scored five runs in a single inning for the second time in the game. Kellar connected for her fourth hit of the game and later crossed the plate, scoring her fourth run of the game. ISU ended the inning with six hits and five runs. The five runs gave the Redbirds a 12-0 advantage over the Prairie Stars, ending the game after five innings.

Game Two Recap: Illinois State 9 - SIU-Edwardsville 0

Hamilton tripled to start the game, scoring Harrison, who walked with two outs, to take a quick 1-0 lead. Kay hit a deep fly ball to left field, where SIUE's Rebecca Gray made the catch, but Hamilton was able to tag and scored on the sacrifice fly. With the bases empty, Laura Canopy doubled and stole third, before crossing home after an illegal pitch to give the Redbirds an early 3-0 advantage.

With two outs in the top of the fourth, ISU regained momentum in the batter's box. Kellar hit a triple off of the right center field wall and drove in Kara Repp, who singled up the middle. Harrison singled to the left side and scored Kellar to give Illinois State a 5-0 lead. Like they did in the fourth, the Redbirds rallied with two outs in the fifth. Sara Bradley scored off of a single by Repp to give ISU a 6-0 advantage.

With the bases loaded, Gallant hit a sacrifice fly to left field and drove in Kelsey Turczyn, 7-0. Brittny Drish singled to left field and drove in Kay and Hoffman to give Illinois State a 9-0 lead. SIU-Edwardsville couldn't answer and the Redbirds won in six innings.

Illinois State will open Sunday's bracket play against Missouri Valley Conference rival Southern Illinois at 12:30 p.m. The winner of that contest will advance to the championship game against the winner of DePaul/Illinois-Chicago at 3 p.m.

"We have to be able to be compete on back-to-back days," Fischer explained. "We haven't done that yet this season, but we have to be able to put two quality ball games together no matter who we play. We need to continue doing the positives, while making a few corrections in other areas."

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