Home runs powered Ball State softball’s home-opening 10-2 victory over Butler Wednesday.
Sophomore designated player Madison Lee hit two home runs and knocked in four of the Cardinals' 10 runs.
"One of Madison's strengths as a hitter at this level is that she's incredibly patient," head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett said. "That kid's going to look for her pitch and she's going to take a healthy hack at it. Now she's starting to get some big-time results of a really fundamental process. She's just doing a great job."
Ball State (15-16) took an early 3-0 lead in the first inning after senior center fielder Rachel Houck hit a two-run shot to left-center field, followed by a solo home run from Lee two batters later.
Lee's home runs were her first two of the season, while Houck recorded her ninth. Houck holds a .350 batting average and went 3-4 today with two RBIs. She also leads the Mid-American Conference in home runs.
"I think we're seeing the ball real well and are doing a better job of hitting our pitch and being patient," Ciolli Bartlett said. "When they see a pitch they're looking for, they're taking a really solid hack at it and you can't ask for more than that."
Ball State’s offense came back for more in the bottom half of the second inning, scoring their fourth run of the game on a wild pitch from Butler right-hander Mikeila Boroff.
Butler (11-16) didn't get its first hit until the top of the third inning with an RBI double from junior Sarah Dixon to make it 4-1.
Ball State's pitchers recorded five strikeouts, with sophomore starting pitcher Aeshia Miles getting her third win of the season. Freshman reliever Alyssa Rothwell came in in the fourth inning, striking out four en route to her first career save.
Lee’s second home run of the game came in the bottom of the fourth inning to secure an 8-1 lead for Ball State. An error from Ball State's infield resulted in Butler getting their second run of the game, making it 8-2 after five innings.
"We've got to stay sharp and we've got to stay focused for seven innings," Ciolli Bartlett said. "If we do that and we hit the way we did today, we're a tough team to beat."
Ball State junior second baseman Maddy Labrador, who reached base without getting a hit, drew a lead-off walk in the sixth inning. Houck and freshman third baseman Janae Hogg followed with a pair of singles, and Lee walked with bases loaded to extend Ball State's lead to 9-2.
Houck then scored on Dixon's third error of the day to make it 10-2, ending the game by the run rule.
The Cardinals will return to the road this weekend when they travel to Buffalo to open up MAC league play.
"We've got a long bus ride tomorrow," Ciolli Bartlett said. "Hopefully today gave the hitters some good confidence. We've got the whole pitching staff going at this point and we're ready to compete."
First pitch is set for 1 p.m. Friday, followed by a doubleheader starting at 9 a.m. Saturday.