Sophomore catcher Madison Lee prepares to hit the ball during Ball State’s first game of the double-header against Miami on April 1 at the Softball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex. Ball State won 6-5 in the first game, and 3-1 in the second. Michelle Kaufman // DN
RECAP: Ball State softball vs. Northern Illinois
Senior first baseman Amanda Arnett entered Ball State softball's doubleheader with Northern Illinois hitting .167 with two home runs on the season.
But in the seventh inning of the second game, Arnett blasted a two-run home run over the right field wall for the 6-4 walk-off win.
"The at-bat before [mine], I watched two outside pitches, so I knew they were going to come that way," Arnett said. "I was just thinking to hit a ball to right-center or get it on the ground somewhere, and I swung at a little bit of a questionable pitch before [the walk off]. I knew they were going to come back with another outside pitch and I trusted that I could do the job."
Ball State statistics (game 1)
W — Carolyn Wilmes (10-9)
Northern Illinois statistics (game 1)
L — Alex Frenz (10-4)
Ball State statistics (game 2)
W — Alyssa Rothwell (4-1)
Northern Illinois statistics (game 2)
L — Keegan Hayes (3-2)
Ball State softball (23-17, 7-1 MAC) also won the first game of the doubleheader 3-2. The victories over Northern Illinois (16-14, 4-4 MAC) extend Ball State's winning streak to six games.
"As hitters they keep their heads about them," Ball State head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett said. "They do their best to adjust from at-bat to at-bat; not so much get caught up in the emotion of it ... Their ability to be a little more analytical has allowed for success like [the six-game win streak]."
All four starting pitchers recorded complete games. Ball State junior right-handed pitcher Carolyn Wilmes picked up the victory in game one to improve her record to 10-9. Northern Illinois sophomore right-handed pitcher Alex Frenz took the loss, dropping her record to 10-4.
Sophomore catcher Olivia Huffman had a two-hit performance, including a two-run home run that tied it 2-2 in the second. It was her first home run of the season and she raised her batting average from .106 to .127.
Freshman third baseman Janae Hogg homered in the fifth, her fifth of the season, to give the Cardinals the game one victory.
In the second game, junior right-handed pitcher Keegan Hayes (3-2) took the loss for the Huskies, while freshman right-handed pitcher Alyssa Rothwell picked up the win to improve to 4-1.
Rothwell had control issues in the first two innings of game two, though, walking the first two batters she faced. In the second inning, junior third baseman Bekah Harnish hit a grand slam that just cleared the fence in center field to give the Huskies a 4-0 edge, though all four runs were unearned.
"Alyssa did a great job today," Arnett said. "Sometimes that stuff happens and you have to have enough trust in your teammates to be able to give you the run support. There's no reason that if a pitcher makes one mistake that you can't come back and win a ball game."
Ball State picked up a run off a throwing error in the third and put runners in scoring position in the fourth and fifth. But the Cardinals' real breakthrough was when they drove in three runs in the sixth, capped off by an RBI single by freshman left fielder Haley Dominique, which tied the game 4-4 and set the stage for Arnett's walk-off in the seventh.
Ball State is back in action Friday when it travels to Athens, Ohio, to take on Ohio University. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.