Head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett talks with junior second baseman Maddy Labrador before her turn at bat during the second game of the double-header against Northern Illinois on April 4 at the Softball Field at the First Merchants Ballpark Complex. The Cardinals’ six-game winning streak puts them at a 7-1 record in Mid-American Conference league play. Emma Rogers // DN File
PREVIEW: Ball State softball travels to Ohio
Ball State softball (23-17, 7-1 MAC) heads into its weekend series against Ohio (25-8, 6-2 MAC) on a six-game win streak.
Head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett thinks that calls for an earned break.
“It’s the girls’ day off today,” Ciolli Bartlett said on Wednesday. “We hit on Monday to get ready for Northern, so they have today off before we travel to Ohio tomorrow.”
Picking up a pair of wins in a doubleheader against Northern Illinois Tuesday, Ball State (23-17, 7-1 MAC) improved to 6-0 at home. The Cardinals also took over sole possession of first place in the MAC standings as Ohio split a double-header at Kent State.
“This feels great,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “We’re playing well in all three aspects. If we play how we’re capable defensively, offensively and we’re tough on the mound, we’re a tough team to beat.”
Ohio redshirt senior pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey is 14-3 with a 1.39 ERA, two saves and 13 complete games. In 110.2 innings, Dorsey has struck out 159 batters and has only allowed 22 earned runs.
“Ohio’s pitching staff is super tough,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “[Dorsey] is extraordinarily talented, so it’s going to be a battle. One or two runs might win you a game, but we are going to have to keep our heads clear and just learn from at-bat to at-bat.”
Entering a weekend on the road well-rested, the Cardinals' pitching staff looks to keep up its strong performance — the team has allowed just 14 runs in its six-game streak.
“We are doing a good job spinning the ball on the mound,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “We’re making teams earn it from the plate. When they push a few runs, we’re making them work for it.”
Junior pitcher Carolyn Wilmes picked up her tenth win of the season for the Cardinals on Tuesday by limiting the Huskies to five hits and a pair of first-inning runs. Wilmes recorded three strikeouts and held Northern Illinois to just three base runners after the first inning. Wilmes enters the weekend with a 3.40 ERA in 94.2 innings with 80 strikeouts.
Led by senior center fielder Rachel Houck and freshman third baseman Janae Hogg, Ball State’s offense will need to stay consistent at the plate against Ohio’s pitching staff.
“Our hitters are coming up in some big-time clutch situations,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “Anytime you’re getting that kind of timely hitting out of a talented offense, good things are going to happen.”
Houck holds a .343 batting average, while Hogg sits next to her with a .341. The duo have a combined 15 home runs and 57 RBIs this season. Hitting a solo shot in Tuesday’s opener, Hogg recorded her fourth game-winning RBI in just five games.
“We need to compete this weekend in every single pitch and take their at-bats one at a time,” Ciolli Bartlett said. “[Dorsey] throws a nasty rise ball, so we need to not swing at that when it comes to a successful offense.”
The first pitch of the three-game series in Athens, Ohio is scheduled for 1 p.m. in a double-header Saturday, followed by one game at 12 p.m. Sunday.