Starting a 12-game stand over spring break, Ball State softball (11-5, 0-0 MAC) kicked off play in the Citrus Classic II at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The Cardinals were coming off a successful weekend at the ECU Pirate Invitational, going 4-1 against mid-major competition.

Cardinals split day 1 competition, Miles throws no-hitter vs. Robert Morris

In the noon slot, The Cardinals faced Fordham (4-11, 0-0 NEC). The Cardinals fell in a 0-2 hole early as the Rams scored on a double off of sophomore Skylar Johnston in the first and extended their lead by two in the third inning off a homerun from freshman Page Raunch.

The Cardinals had a big fourth inning, scoring three straight runs.  Sophomore Kennedy Wynn hit a double to bring in freshman Taylor Castleberry to get the Cardinals on the board. Senior Maddy Labrador hit an RBI single for Wynn to score, tying the game at two. Freshman Stacy Payton doubled later in the inning to score Labrador for a 3-2 lead.

That was the only scoring the Cardinals saw in the game as it was all Rams from there as they would score nine straight runs. The onslaught would be highlighted by back-to-back home runs from Johnston and Raunch to lead the Rams to a 11-3 win.  Three pitchers in senior Carolyn Wilmes, senior Brittany Hopper and sophomore Alyssa Rothwell cycled through the game. Wilmes played the brunt of the game, allowing four runs on five hits over the course of three innings.

The Cardinals looked to bounce back in the afternoon slot against Robert Morris (3-9, 0-0 NEC). From the start, the Cardinals were off and running. Labrador would double in the second to score Wynn for an early 1-0 lead. Sophomore Haley Dominique proved her status as Mid-American Conference West Softball Player of the Week as she hit a grand slam to give the Cardinals a 5-0 lead. Sophomore Janae Hogg followed Dominique’s lead as she hit a homer in the third inning to extend the Cardinals' lead to six. In the fifth, Labrador would double to score Castleberry, and in the sixth, Dominque would single to score senior Cadie O’Donnell.

When the dust settled, the Cardinals had forced the mercy rule on the Colonials, winning the game, 8-0. Miles threw a no-hitter along the way, striking out five.

Cardinals fall to Delaware and Czech Republic, Hopper makes season debut on mound

The Cardinals came into day two looking to improve their 1-1 record against Delaware (2-9, 0-0 CAA). Wynn opened the scoring in the third inning, hitting an RBI single to bring in Dominique to give the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead. The Blue Hens would answer off a home run from junior Anna Steinmetz to give the Blue Hens a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth, Dominique singled to bring in junior Olivia Huffman and tie the game at two. Hogg connected on an RBI double that scored freshman Katie Janiga and Dominique, giving the Cardinals a 4-2 lead. The Blue Hens would answer once again off an RBI double from senior Mariah Kondravy to pull Delaware within one. The Blue Hens would tie the game off a fielding error.

In the fifth, Dominque would double to score junior Madison Lee and take the lead at 5-4. The Blue Hens would not go away as they tied the game off a stolen base made possible by a throwing error.

The game remained tight until the seventh inning, where Rothwell would walk in the game-winning run as the Blue Hens took the game, 6-5.

Miles pitched the majority of the game, allowing five runs off eight hits and striking out four over five innings. Rothwell closed out the game, allowing one run and striking out three over one and a half innings.

In the second game of the day against the Czech Republic National Team, the Cardinals fell in a hole early as they would find themselves down 5-0 at the top of the second inning. Labrador would get the Cardinals on the board off a fielding error by the Czechs.

In the third, senior Brittany Hopper took over pitching duties for the first time this season, relieving Wilmes from the game. The Czechs would add on to their lead, homering to take a 6-2 lead. The fourth inning saw Labrador hit a solo home run to add to the Cardinals score and make it 6-3.

The Cardinals wouldn’t see home plate for the rest of the game as the Czechs would extend their lead by three more runs, taking the game, 9-3.

Cardinals wrap up Citrus Classic II win over Niagara, Miles strikes out 14

The Cardinals finished up the Citrus Classic II invite on Sunday morning against Niagara (3-9, 0-0 MAAC). The Cardinals were looking for redemption after a rough Saturday.

The first run of the game wouldn’t even come off a hitting play as Sophomore Haley Dominique stole home to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead early in first inning. That was the only score of the game as the Cardinals maintained a 1-0 lead to win the game by that same score.

The big star of the game was Miles again as she pitched the entirety of the game, striking out 14 batters on the way to a win. Miles also allowed only one hit over seven innings, with no Purple Eagles crossing home plate.

The Cardinals finished the Citrus Classic II at 2-3. The team scored 20 runs and allowed 26 over the course of the weekend. Ball State will return to action against UCF and Virginia Tech on Tuesday in Orlando.

Contact Jack Williams with comments at jgwilliams@bsu.edu or on Twitter at @JackWilliamsBSU.