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Softball Splits Saturday at Tiger Invitational

Other StuffMaybe some of you are celebrating your Valentine’s Day by watching 50 Shades of Grey or some other way to enjoy your significant other’s company. Maybe a good number of you are single. Maybe you’re longing for some sports. Maybe you need some BSU sports fix, and you need it right now. If so, you should perhaps see someone about that addiction. That may be serious.

However, get it fed all the same, because your Cardinal softballers split their Saturday in Alabama against Mercer and Winthrop in the invitational hosted by Auburn. Chirp chirp on the plains? Get it on. The Cards dropped the opening contests in Auburn on Friday to Georgia State and Auburn, the latter a 12-1 loss in 5 innings. Auburn is ranked 17th in the country, just so you’re aware. Saturday was a new day with Mercer and Winthrop on the horizon.

To the BSU release!

The Ball State softball team celebrated Valentine’s Day with a Saturday split at the Tiger Invitational hosted by No. 17 Auburn. The Cardinals opened the day with a 9-1 (5 inn.) win over Mercer, before falling to Winthrop by a score of 10-1 (5 inn.).

Ball State (4-4) concludes play in the three-day Tiger Invitational Sunday, with a scheduled 10:45 a.m. ET / 9:45 a.m. CT first pitch versus Eastern Illinois.

In the opening game of the day, the Cardinals faced a pair of familiar faces on the Mercer (5-3) bench in co-head coach Stephaine DeFeo and pitching coach Kim Mazzapica. DeFeo was an assistant coach at Ball State for six seasons (2007-12) and helped guide the Cardinals to three Mid-American Conference regular season championships.

Mazzapica was a four-year letterwinner (2009-12) and three-time conference champion for the Cardinals as a pitcher and finished her career ranked sixth in program history with 33 career pitching wins. Mazzapica was also a volunteer coach for Ball State in 2013, helping guide the Cardinals to another conference title.

Senior catcher Jessica Craft (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) led the Cardinals versus Mercer, collecting three hits, including a solo home run. She also posted a RBI single in the seventh. Reyna finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBI on a two-run homer and a RBI double.

In the second game, Winthrop (4-4) held Ball State to just two hits over the five-inning game, with sophomore center fielder Taylor Cooley (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) logging her first career hit in the loss.

GAME ONE RECAP: Ball State 9, Mercer 1 in Five Innings
Long ball was the name of the game versus Mercer, as the Cardinals scored their first six runs via the home run on the way to a 9-1 (5 inn.) victory.

Craft was the first to go yard, as her first home run of the season gave Ball State a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Junior second baseman Emily Dabkowski (Plainfield, Ind./South Putnam) followed with a three-run blast in the top of the third, extending the Cardinals advantage to 4-0. Sophomore third baseman Amanda Arnett (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) and sophomore center fielder India Steward (Matteson, Ill./Rich South/Western Kentucky) scored on the blast after reaching base via a triple and fielder’s choice, respectively.

Junior shortstop Selena Reyna (Houston, Texas/South Houston) extended Ball State’s lead to 6-0 in the top of the fourth with her first homer of the season. The two-run blast also drove in Craft who opened the inning with an infield single.

The Cardinals added three more runs in the top of the fifth, pushing its advantage to 9-0. With one out, Dabkowski and senior left fielder Hanne Stuedemann (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan) drew back-to-back walks. After a double steal, Craft came through with a RBI single to drive in the first run of the inning. Cowger followed with sacrifice fly to left to give Ball State an 8-0 lead. Reyna then drove in Ball State’s final run of the game with a RBI double to center field.

Mercer scored its first and only run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, on a one-out RBI groundout to the pitcher.

Junior Nicole Steinbach (Merrillville, Ind./Andrean) picked up the win in the circle, limiting the Bears to five hits and one unearned run over 5.0 innings of work. She also struck out six batters in the contest, while yielding just one walk.

For the game, the Cardinals scored nine runs on seven hits with one error. Mercer tallied one run on five hits with no errors.

GAME TWO RECAP: Winthrop 10, Ball State 1 in 5 Inn.
After a strong offensive showing in the opener, the Cardinals’ bats fell silent in a 10-1 (5 inn.) loss to Winthrop (4-4) in Saturday’s finale.

With the Eagles clinging to a 1-0 lead after three innings, the visitors struck for five runs in the fourth and four runs in the fifth to pull ahead 10-0.

The Cardinals got their lone run of the game in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a RBI groundout from Cowger. Senior center fielder Loren Cihlar (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North) scored on the play after reached base on an error to open the inning, advancing to second on a Dabkowski walk and moving to third on a Stuedemann groundout.

Overall, the Cardinals scored one run on two hits with one error in the contest. Winthrop posted 10 runs on nine hits with three errors.

We’ll have more tomorrow on softball’s adventures in Alabama along with baseball’s opening season tourney in NC on Sunday. Enjoy your Valentine’s Day!

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