After going 4-2 at the Madeira Beach Invitational, Ball State Softball heads to sunny California for the Silicon Valley Classic to take on five opponents from the West.
“You know when you’re seeing a lot of West Coast opponents that you’re going to see a faster speed of the game,” head coach Megan Bartlett said. “They’re going to have more slappers and speed kids, which is something you don’t see a lot of in the Midwest.”
There are a number of moving parts to this year’s Cardinal squad. Between junior Janae Hogg’s four homers thus far in the season and junior Alyssa Rothwell tallying seven strikeouts in the game against Quinnipiac in her second to last appearance, the upperclassmen are providing an early boost in the 2019 season.
Along with the strikeouts, Rothwell found herself rewriting the Mid-American Conference record books by notching her 18th career save over the weekend in the Cardinals’ win over Central Arkansas. The relief pitcher has helped anchor the Cardinals’ pitching staff to a 2.43 ERA in 11 games this season. Rothwell owns the second lowest mark on the team at 0.81, behind the squads leading hurler Darcie Huber, who sports a 0.47 ERA.
“It’s a huge deal to have [Huber] back,” Bartlett said. “She’s such a competitor, and not only does she raise the physical level of what we are doing on the mound, but she doesn’t let anyone off the hook. She is a leader and a standard-holder.”
Not only are the Cardinals receiving a jolt from the pitching staff, but Hogg has set the standard on offense. With 6 extra base hits to lead the team this year, Hogg is pacing the team with a .700 slugging percentage.
While being a stat leader, Hogg is a leader on the field for her teammates, as well.
“I open myself to others and I allow them to talk to me with anything they need,” Hogg said. “I’ve learned from other leaders on the team because they play just as big of a role, as well.”
And it doesn’t stop there. The Cardinals have a number of freshmen on their bench ready to come in at any time.
“The freshmen are natural athletes and really solid ball players,” Bartlett said. “The reality is that, they are behind some really tough veterans right now, but they’re doing a tremendous job and if the older ones let up for even a second, the younger ones will slide in and take the opportunity.”
Looking toward the weekend, the Cardinals will face a slate of Northern Colorado, San Jose State, CSU Bakersfield, Utah State and Montana. Their first game of the classic will be Friday against Northern Colorado at 12 p.m. (EST).
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