Senior left fielder Amanda Arnett looks outfield after making contact with the ball in the game against Central Michigan on April 22 at the Varsity Softball Complex. The Cardinals will travel to Arizona this weekend to compete in the Wildcat Invitational. Allye Clayton // DN File
PREVIEW: Ball State softball travels to Arizona for Wildcat Invitational
Ball State softball is back on the field this weekend in the Wildcat Invitational, hosted by the University of Arizona.
After dropping four of their five games at the Louisiana Classics last weekend, the Cardinals (1-4) plan to better themselves against Drake and Arizona on Friday.
“Last weekend was kind of eye-opening and — as oddly as it sounds — it was exciting for the program,” head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett said. “We’re going to continue to compete hard again this weekend, but it’s definitely been an exciting week for the program.”
Weekend schedule (all games in Tuscon, Arizona)
Friday, Feb. 17
Ball State vs. Drake, 3 p.m.
Ball State vs. Arizona, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 18
Ball State vs. Abilene Christian, 11 a.m.
Ball State vs. North Dakota State, 1 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 19
Ball State vs. Boston College, 11 a.m.
The Cardinals are focusing on preparing their offense to compete against a decorated Drake (4-1) pitching staff. Bulldogs junior right-hander Nicole Newman was named Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week on Monday. Newman compiled a 2-1 record with a 0.39 ERA and one save in four appearances at the Louisiana Classics. She also recorded 35 strikeouts in 18 innings.
“She is an excellent pitcher,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “She has a great screw and a great rise. She’s tough, so as long as we can lay off the rise and force her to come over the wide of the plate with her screwball, we’ll be in good shape.”
Ciolli Bartlett would like to see her team stay disciplined at the plate against Newman.
“When coming up with runners in scoring position, we need to not chase bad pitches, but wait for the mistakes to get thrown and crush them,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “You are going to get better at those things with experience and continuously being put in those situations is motivation to play well this early with so many new kids.”
Senior left fielder Amanda Arnett leads the Cardinals with a .333 batting average, and junior second baseman Maddy Labrador has reached base safely in all five games.
The Cardinals are also directing their focus defensively as they hope to hold off Drake’s offense.
“All in all, the pitchers actually did pretty well,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “We need to continue to communicate a little bit better on defense and just take care of the ball when the runners are going.”
The team was not able to practice on its field this week, but is looking forward to getting a practice in when they arrive in Arizona.
“We’re going to go find a high school field before we play tomorrow and get the infield some more ground balls,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “It’s going to be another super tough weekend playing such tough teams.”
The Cardinals will take the field against Drake at 3 p.m. Friday and Arizona at 5 p.m.