|ISU softball washes Wichita State away|
|Written by Scott Gleeson, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Sunday, 28 March 2010 20:18|
The ISU women’s softball game against Wichita State was cancelled due to light rain showers Sunday.
It did not matter though.
The damage had already been done.
Illinois State’s final game of its Missouri Valley Conference-opening series may have been washed away, but the Redbirds (12-10, 2-0 MVC) took care of the cleaning, sweeping the Shockers (9-17, 0-4 MVC) with two convincing victories Saturday at Marian Kneer Stadium.
After using a seven-run fourth inning to dismantle the Shockers 9-1 in the first game of the series, the ‘Birds continued to chalk up the hits while coasting for a 10-2 win in the second game.
“I thought we came out really strong and never relinquished a lead in either game,” ISU softball coach Melinda Fischer said.
“We didn’t get to play Drake [last week due to inclement weather] and that was very disappointing not being able to play at home. I feel that coming in and playing well in the first conference series was huge.”
Junior second baseman Kara Nelson led a furious hitting charge, which included 19 hits and six homers on the day. Nelson finished 6-for-6 at the plate, scoring four runs over two games.
“Kara was perfect at the plate,” Fischer said. “She had a great start to the conference season. She batted a lot of different pitches and was able to hang tough. That was huge in setting the table for us.”
Illinois State used steady pitching to complement its strong hitting. Megan Warner (5-4) took the win in the first game, striking out four. She allowed only four hits and one run. Jordan Birch (5-5) controlled the circle in the second game, striking out four while allowing two hits and two runs.
“We had a bit of a layoff, so I wasn’t quite sure how we were going to come out pitching,” Fischer said. “They [Warner and Birch] both came out strong though and were able to find their rhythm.”
In the Redbirds’ heavy hitting fourth inning of game one, right fielder Lauren Keller sent a three-run home run ball over the right field wall to spark a whirlwind of ISU home runs.
Jhavon Hamilton belted a home run in the same inning to bring home Nelson before third baseman Abby Olson followed with a solo home run ball over the center field wall. Beth Current singled to drive in Elizabeth Kay, which gave the ‘Birds a commanding eight-run lead that they would not relinquish.
“Anytime you have a big inning like that, it’s great for confidence and it generates energy,” Fischer said. “They put in a new pitcher and then we got three [runs] off the relief pitcher.”
The offensive dispatch continued in the second game as ISU notched 11 hits en route to 10 runs scored in its 10-2 landslide.
Catcher Brianna Lizen hit perhaps the most out-of-the-blue home run of the weekend when she cuffed a three-run home run in the first inning, the first home run of her career. Her homer served as a domino effect, spawning seven more runs to secure the victory.
ISU hosts in-state rival Western Illinois Wednesday at 4 p.m.