Junior Carolyn Wilmes pitches the ball in the game against Central Michigan at the Varsity Softball Complex on April 23, 2016. Ball State softball (3-11) competed in the Citrus Classic I over the weekend at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. Allye Clayton // DN File
PREVIEW: Ball State softball to compete in the SIUE tournament
Coming off a 13-game run in just ten days over spring break, Ball State softball (11-16) will take a break from the warm weather this weekend as they travel to Edwardsville, Illinois.
Ball State will compete in the SIUE tournament opening the weekend on Saturday against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (19-4).
As it enters the SIUE Tournament, Ball State has played its first 27 games on the road. In addition to the three games they will compete in this weekend, the Cardinals will play 30 consecutive games on the road before their home opener on Wednesday.
SIUE tournament information:
1 p.m. Saturday vs. SIUE
5 p.m. vs. Butler
3 p.m. Sunday NKU
The Cardinals ended their Spring Break trip with an 8-5 record, doubling its win total from last season’s trip to Florida. This season, offense had a big part in the wins.
Hitting .316 as a team over the 13 games, senior center fielder and reigning Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week Rachel Houck lead Ball State’s offense. Houck hit .457 going 21-for-46 putting up four doubles and five home runs to score 18 of Ball State’s 74 runs.
Entering the SIUE Tournament as one of the nation’s top sluggers, ranking eighth among all NCAA Division-I players in both doubles (10) and home runs (8), Houck holds a .333 batting average on the season, with 32 homeruns and 21 RBIs. Her .585 career slugging percentage is ranked sixth in program history.
Ball State’s patience at the plate has contributed to their effective offense this season. The Cardinals lead the Mid-American Conference and rank 15th nationally with 101 walks. Seven of their nine starters rank in the top 15 in the MAC in walks. Sophomore catcher Olivia Huffman is ranked second with 14.
Going into Saturday, the SIUE Cougars will begin its 2017 home schedule as they host the tournament. SIUE will face Ball State coming off an eight-game winning streak. Freshman pitcher Emily Ingles was named the Ohio Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week.
The Cardinals offense will face a strong defensive team from the Cougars. Senior pitcher for SIUE Haley Chambers-Book recorded a team earned run average of 0.55 with 73 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched.