Then junior pitcher Nicole Steinbach pitches the ball during the first game of the double header against Western Kentucky at First Merchants Ballpark Complex on March 21. DN PHOTO ALAINA JAYE HALSEY
Ball State softball looks to come back after uncharacteristic weekend
The Ball State softball team was swept in its first weekend returning to Mid-American Conference play after some uncharacteristic play.
After the weekend at Miami, head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett remarked on the 19 runners the team left stranded on-base and 13 of which were in scoring positions.
Scores vs Miami University
Friday, March 25: 4-3 L
Saturday, March 26: 5-3 L
Saturday, March 26: 5-2 L
“We didn’t happen to come up with a big hit with runners in scoring position when we needed it and that was the theme of the weekend,” Bartlett said.
One aspect Ball State saw problems with for the first time year was its pitching staff. Senior Nicole Steinbach, who has won three MAC Pitcher of the Week awards, went a full six innings in the Cardinals' 4-3 loss on March 25.
The following day, Steinbach was relieved in the fourth inning after giving up three runs. She allowed five earned runs in the game.
“This team has been resilient all year; they don’t ride an emotional roller coaster, they stay clear headed and take criticism well,” Bartlett said. “We’re going to sit down and have a long talk as a team.”
Ball State will turn around quickly as they host Ohio University in a three game series this weekend for their first home games of the season.
Bartlett hopes to see improvement as the team will be in front of the home crowd for the first time this season.
“This team does a good job of reacting and getting better,” she said. “Our offense is capable of putting up big numbers and if we execute better, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
Bartlett also pointed to the youth of the team as an issue.
“I think there were nerves and overthinking, which comes with the first weekend," Bartlett said. "Most of our lineup right now haven’t been full-time starters and that’s a tough thing because the only thing that can help you consistently step up is being in the situation before.”
Seven underclassmen saw game time last weekend, four of whom were freshman, including five who were in the starting lineup. Of the rest, only five are seniors.
The softball team is back in action this weekend against Ohio University. They start the three-game series with their home opener on Friday, April 1 at 3 p.m.