The MVC first-place Illinois State Redbirds brought their pan and broom to Missouri this week as the softball team (24-24, 16-5 MVC) rolled over the Missouri State Bears (25-25, 8-15 MVC) for a three-game series victory, to extend its winning streak to eight.
Game One: ISU 6, MSU 2
MSU came out in the first inning on top, 1-0, before ISU scored six of the next seven runs of the contest.
Although MSU’s Erin Struemph retired ISU’s first eight batters, the Redbirds scored three runs in the third. Kolby Hoffman started it off for the ’Birds when she reached on a bunt. Laura Canopy followed up with a two-run homer that was almost caught by MSU’s right fielder before she hit the wall. Nichelle Harrison tripled before Regan Romshek hit a single down the line to give the Redbirds the 3-1 lead.
“They started learning with other people’s at bats as well and sometimes it’s not necessarily the pitcher it’s just adjusting to the strike zone. I think it was a combination of both,” head coach Melinda Fischer said about the Redbird lack of runs in the first and second.
In the fourth inning Harrison singled to send Kelsey Turczyn home to extend the Redbirds’ lead to 4-1. The Bears scored another run to cut the deficit in half, 4-2 in the bottom of the frame. ISU added the game’s final two runs to earn the win in game one. Kara Repp and Annie Heineman both had RBI singles in the fifth and seventh inning, respectively, to help the Redbirds take the contest, 6-2.
Game Two: ISU 7, MSU 3
The momentum from game one shifted into game two as the Redbirds scored the game’s first seven runs, sailing past the Bears to earn the doubleheader sweep.
Canopy led off game two with a walk, stole second, took third on a ground out and darted home to earn the first run of the game. Stephanie Gallant doubled in the second inning and scored on a sacrifice fly from Repp two batters later to put the ’Birds up 2-0.
The Redbirds came out strong in the third with five runs. Canopy started off the inning with a double, and scored when Harrison singled, one batter later. Harrison scored on Gallant’s sacrifice fly, before Brittny Drish rocked a three-run homer to extend ISU’s lead, 7-0.
“She had a good at bat, put a good swing on a pitch and got some distance with it. And that was a great hit for Brittny. It was a great hit that we needed as a team,” Fischer said.
Taylor Baxter (WP, 8-10) was in the circle for the Redbirds and gave up three runs in the third to put the score at 7-3. She bounced back with a scoreless fourth inning before Romshek entered and shut down the Bears for the final three innings to earn her second save of the season.
Game Three: ISU 3, MSU 0
In the top of the third the Redbirds came up with three runs, which would be the only runs scored by either team. Repp started off the inning with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a sacrifice by Drish. Canopy doubled down the right field line to plate Repp and make it a 1-0 game. Harrison hit a single that sent Canopy home, before she scored on Romshek’s single. This put the ’Birds on top, 3-0.
ISU’s defense played a role in the victory as well. A Heineman throw from left field to third forced out an MSU runner to end the third inning. In the fourth, Repp grabbed an over the fence ball to keep the Bears scoreless. Harrison also made a diving catch in the fifth to help keep the Bears at zero.
ISU will host Drake at 3 p.m. on Monday for a doubleheader.