Softball drops two at #22 Illinois State
Illinois State, the Missouri Valley Conference’s most potent offense, showcased its firepower Saturday as the 22nd-ranked Redbirds defeated the Missouri State softball team by scores of 10-1 and 11-1 in Normal, Ill. The Redbirds pounded out 25 hits in the two games to improve to 41-14-1 on the season and 17-7-1 in the MVC. Missouri State dropped to 21-27 and 10-13.
Illinois State jumped to an early lead in game one, as Amber Smith ripped a first-inning RBI single after the first two batters of the game were hit by Melissa Porche pitches. Kelsey Warning, the MVC’s RBI leader, added to her total with a run-scoring fielder’s choice to make it 2-0. The Redbirds added two more runs in the second inning, as Kaprice Williams homered to lead off the inning and Jackie Williams walked and later scored on a Missouri State error. Illinois State extended its lead to 7-0 in the third inning, as Kaprice Williams hit her second home run in as many innings, this time a three-run shot.
Missouri State cut the Redbirds’ lead to 7-1 in the top of the fifth, as sophomore Jessie Smith ripped an RBI single to score Jana Shewmaker, who drew a leadoff walk. However, Illinois State tallied three more runs in the bottom of the frame to end the game. Tiffany Prager doubled and scored on a wild pitch to make it 8-1, and Jessie Buker concluded the contest with a two-run home run.
The Redbirds outhit Missouri State, 11-5, in the opener. Katie Martin, Elysha Swider, Michelle Armentrout and Lacie Ballard joined Smith with singles for the Bears. Porche (16-17) took the loss on the mound for MSU, allowing six runs on four hits in two plus innings. Freshman Lauren McGinley relieved Porche in the bottom of the third with two on and no outs. McGinley finished the contest, allowing four runs on seven hits in 2.2 innings. Shannon Nicholson (19-5) allowed five hits in a five-inning complete game effort to pick up the win for the Redbirds.
The Illinois State offense picked up where it left off in game two, scoring three first-inning runs off MSU starter Megan Ramsey. ILSU’s Warning ripped an RBI double and Buker hit another two-run homer, her second in as many at bats going back to game one. The Redbirds broke the game open in the third, tallying four more in the frame. Prager doubled to lead off the inning and Warning added another RBI with a run-scoring single. Starting pitcher Stacy Birk added an RBI single and Casey Gorrell made it 7-0 with a two-run single.
Missouri State found the scoring column in the top of the sixth, as leftfielder Swider doubled to lead off the frame. Ballard then drove Swider home with a double of her own, making it 7-1. Illinois State, however, had an answer in the bottom of the sixth as Amber Smith laced the Redbirds’ third consecutive one-out single to score Kara Nelson. Buker then ended a remarkable afternoon with her second game-ending home run of the day. The Redbirds’ leftfielder launched a three-run shot for her second homer of the game, and third of the day. Buker notched five RBIs in the game and seven for the afternoon.
The Bears were again outhit, 14-5, in the nightcap. Brooke Kempker added one of three MSU doubles in the contest and Jessie Smith singled and stole her MVC-leading 17th base. Birk (19-8) went the distance for Illinois State on the mound, striking out six. Ramsey (5-7) suffered the loss for Missouri State, allowing seven runs on eight hits in three innings. McGinley pitched the final 2.2 innings, allowing four runs on six hits.
The teams will wrap up the series, and the regular season, with a 12:00 noon contest Sunday at the Redbird Softball Complex.