|’Birds best Sycamores, 9-1|
|Written by Emily Warner, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 24 April 2012 19:40|
The Indiana State softball team got twice as many hits off of Redbird pitcher Jordan Birch in the teams' outing on Tuesday compared to when the teams met last week … they got two hits this time.
After splitting a mid-week double header in Terre Haute on April 18, the teams finished the series at Marian Kneer Softball Stadium with a 9-1 victory for the ’Birds.
With the exception of a solo home run, Birch was able to keep the Indiana State bats silent and off of the base paths, striking out seven and issuing zero walks.
“I haven’t given up as many home runs this year as I have in the past years. They’re inevitable with me being an upball pitcher, they’re bound to happen,” Birch said. “There’s certain days where [my pitches] move a lot more and when they don’t, but today especially, they were moving a lot more … and [the Sycamores were] swinging at them.”
The Indiana State pitchers had a little more trouble containing their opponents as the three pitchers gave up a combined eight hits and doled out five walks.
Lauren Kellar led the offensive attack with three hits and just as many runs.
“I was just seeing the ball well and it was [about] going up there and having a plan and focusing on swinging at a good pitch,” Kellar said.
While the Sycamores went three-up, three-down in the first trio of innings, the Redbirds stranded two runners on base in the first and went down one-two-three in the second before exploding in the third inning.
Junior Jhavon Hamilton hit a triple to deep left and Kellar followed with an RBI single to put the Redbirds up 1-0. After advancing to third, Kellar scored on a wild pitch, extending Illinois State’s lead, 2-0. The ’Birds plated another run with senior Caiti Kopp getting an RBI single to left to give Illinois State a 3-0 advantage and induce a pitching change.
But with bases loaded, sophomore Kolby Hoffman hit a double to the center field wall that cleared the bases and doubled the Redbirds’ lead to 6-0 after three innings of play.
Indiana State answered back with a solo home run from leadoff hitter Megan Stone, who has accounted for all three of the Sycamores’ hits off of Birch this season. Stone got her second hit of the day in the sixth inning, but the Redbirds managed to end the inning and keep the score at 6-0.
The Sycamores continued to unravel in the sixth inning, starting with an overthrow by Indiana State that allowed Hamilton to advance to second, before she eventually stole third. Kellar followed by drawing a walk.
Senior Liz Andrews singled down the right field line to score Hamilton and Kellar and end the game in the bottom of the sixth to give the ’Birds the win and the series, taking two of three games from Indiana State.
“It’s exciting to see us get some wins and play the way we’re really capable of playing,” Illinois State head coach Melinda Fischer, said.
The Redbirds (29-20, MVC 14-7) will play their final home series starting on Saturday against the Creighton Bluejays, who are perched one spot ahead of the ’Birds in the conference standings.
“Creighton is a big series,” Birch said. “They’re ahead of us and we just need to take it to them and carry the momentum we’ve gained from these last four games. I’m excited.”
Game time against CU is slated to begin at noon on Saturday with a doubleheader and to conclude on Sunday with “Senior Day.”