With just under a month left before the Mid-American Conference Tournament, Ball State Softball (12-19, 5-3 MAC) went 2-1 in a midweek series against Northern Illinois (9-17, 3-8 MAC) to put them in fourth place in the MAC.
The Cardinals jumped out to a four-run lead in the first inning of the first game Tuesday, starting with an RBI single from freshman first baseman McKayla Timmons.
“I saw more confidence at the plate,” head coach Lacy Shurr said. “I think we’re starting to trust the process and going out and executing.”
Despite scoring another three runs in the second inning, Northern Illinois got on the board to cut into the seven-run Ball State lead. The Cardinals responded by tallying another six runs ignited by a home run from senior outfielder and reigning MAC Player of the Week Faith Hensley.
By the end of the fifth inning, Ball State had maintained control to secure a 13-3 victory in game one.
The momentum carried into the second game of the series, Wednesday, with an 11-0 shutout of the Huskies by Ball State.
Three runs were scored in the first inning from Hensley, junior infielder and outfielder Haley Wynn and Timmons.
Timmons scored another run in the second inning after a double from senior utility Amaia Daniel.
Daniel was part of a 3 RBI hit later in the inning from graduate student catcher Delanie Johnson. Sophomore infielder Kayla Lissy and sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Matthews joined Daniel in scoring to extend the lead to 7-0 in favor of the Cardinals.
A Hensley home run and two RBI third inning allowed sophomore outfielder Remington Ross to reach home base.
Johnson hit her second home run of the day in the fourth inning while sophomore utility Samantha Jo-Mata closed out the contest with a home run in the fifth inning.
Junior pitcher Deborah Jones pitched the shutout for Ball State, allowing three hits in the entire game from Northern Illinois.
The Cardinals had a slow start to the final game of the series, going scoreless in the first inning. By the end of the second inning, Ball State had tallied eight runs.
Sophomore outfielder and catcher Hannah Dukeman scored the first run for the Cardinals in the second inning after Timmons walked, leading to Wynn advancing to second and Hensley to third.
Following three more runs from Wynn, Hensley and Timmons, Jo-Mata hit a home run and a 4 RBI to double Ball State’s total and put them up 8-0. Northern Illinois responded with four runs in the bottom of the second to cut their deficit in half.
After both teams went scoreless in the third inning, Northern Illinois scored eight unanswered runs in the fourth inning. The Huskies scored seven runs in the fifth inning alone to come back and punctuate a 13-9 victory over the Cardinals.
“We bought in and we were more aggressive. We wanted to come in and set the tone,” Shurr said.
Ball State starts their next series against Ohio Saturday at 1 p.m. and it will be televised on ESPN3.
Contact Corbin Hubert with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @corbin_hubert_