|ISU splits games at UNI to end regular season|
|Written by Tawni Ricketts, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Sunday, 06 May 2012 15:48|
The Illinois State softball team clinched the No. 2 seed for the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Softball Championship tournament next weekend, after playing its last regular season games against MVC foe Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Saturday.
“I’m proud of them for being able to accomplish [clinching the number two seed]. We did it by winning — by winning at least one game at Northern Iowa. I thought that was good,” ISU head coach Melinda Fischer said.
After being rained out on Sunday, the teams were deprived of a series win-determining third game. The Redbirds and the Panthers each finished the weekend with a win, with ISU taking the first game of Saturday’s double header, 1-0, and UNI taking the second, 3-0.
The Redbirds finished the regular season 33-21 overall and 18-8 in the MVC.
ISU 1, UNI 0
Senior pitcher Jordan Birch earned her 21st win and 10th shutout of the season in the first game of Saturday’s double header against the Panthers. Birch gave up just two hits and walked one batter during her time in the circle, while striking out 10, thus pushing her to a seven-win streak on starts in the circle.
Junior Jhavon Hamilton accounted for ISU’s only run of the game when she led off the top of the sixth inning with a solo home run to right centerfield for her 11th home run of the season.
UNI base runners did not get past first base for the first four innings of the game, but threatened in the fifth inning when a Panther reached third base on a sacrifice bunt. Birch pitched out of the situation after she induced a fly out to left field.
“It definitely was a pitcher’s battle,” Fischer said. “I thought it was a great ball game. I know both teams were struggling a little bit offensively, but I think that’s due to the great pitching on both sides.”
ISU 0, UNI 3
Megan Warner received the loss for ’Birds in the second game of Saturday’s double header as ISU fell to UNI 3-0.
The Panthers started the game on top, as it scored in the bottom of the first inning to take the 1-0 lead.
ISU had an opportunity to score in the first and second innings, but left a runner stranded in scoring position in both scenarios.
UNI extended its lead in the fifth inning with a single to right field, followed by a two-run home run which prompted a Redbird pitching change.
Freshman Sophia Perez took to the circle for the final 1.2 innings of play, allowing just one hit and striking out three, but the Redbirds were unable to plate any runs in return, thus securing the UNI win.
The Redbirds face a busy week ahead of them, as they will have to balance finals on top of preparing for the MVC tournament.
“We have to work around rescheduling finals so we can get down to [Southern Illinois] on Wednesday,” Fischer explained. “We’ll have one day of practice down at Southern Illinois, but I think right now what they really need to be concentrating on and focusing on is to finish up the academic year strong, and we’ll take on the athletic part after we’re finished with that.”
ISU will head to Carbondale, Ill., next weekend to compete in the State Farm MVC Softball Championships. The Redbirds first game of the tournament is scheduled for Friday, May 11 at 2:30 p.m.