Senior right hander Carolyn Wilmes winds up for the pitch in the game against Central Michigan at the Softball Field at First Merchants Ballpark Complex on April 23 last season. Allye Clayton, DN File
Ball State softball looks to stay hot going into heavy spring break lineup
Coming off a successful finish at the ECU Pirate Invitational, Ball State softball (9-3, 0-0 MAC) will head into a 12-game stretch over spring break, playing in the Citrus Classic II and the FAU Parents’ weekend tournament. The team will also face Virginia Tech and UCF in two non-tournament games.
The Cardinals were dominant last weekend in North Carolina, especially on offense. In the final two games, the Cardinals outscored their opponents by an 18-6 margin. This was thanks to a Cardinals explosion on offense in the fourth inning in both games.
“We showed a lot of composure at the plate last weekend and made adjustments as well,” Head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett said. “That led to big innings where we had four, five, seven runs in one inning, which makes it hard for teams to recover from. The bats definitely came alive last weekend.”
The Cardinals have also been strong on the mound. The cycling of senior Carolyn Wilmes, junior Aeshia Miles and sophomore Alyssa Rothwell has been effective for the squad early on. The trio combined for 11 runs on 28 hits and struck out 27 over the course of the weekend.
“We’re looking to stay consistent by trusting our process,” Miles said. “We're just looking to stay healthy, working every weekend and looking so see what we can improve on. That is what is going to keep us getting better throughout the season.”
Sophomore Haley Dominique has been a major factor for the team on offense. Dominque holds the highest batting average on the team at .395 percent and the most hits on the team this season with 15, which led to her earning Mid-American Conference West Softball Player of the Week. This past weekend, Dominique held the highest slugging percentage at .750.
“Haley has fantastic hands and is doing a fantastic job at the top of the lineup for us,” Bartlett said. “She’s very disciplined and can hit the ball to both fields. She does a great job of keeping her composure in tough situations and it has made her very successful.”
Going into spring break, the team will see competition from almost every part of Division I softball. From No. 25 Michigan to Florida A&M, Ball State is looking to build confidence against all of its opponents.
“This stretch is going to provide us an opportunity to build some confidence through the array of teams we will see over these 12 games,” Bartelett said. “There’s going to be some chances to create some offensive momentum and create confidence as a team. there’s a lot of opportunities to defeat some mid-major programs and maybe knock off some Power 5 programs.”
One of the opponents that the team will face this weekend is the Czech Republic national team, who makes a yearly trip through Florida to face college teams. The Czechs went 5-4 last season against NCAA competition. The Cardinals have expressed excitement for their matchup against the Czechs on Saturday.
“I’m excited to see what talent comes from them and what their culture brings to the field,” Wilmes said. “We saw them play last year, which was really cool by itself. Also, I want to see if they have different pitching form, which would be really cool.”
With the team coming up on a lot of competition in the next week, it is focused on doing what it has been doing for the past three weeks, which is playing and working as a team. According to Bartlett, the belief the Cardinals have this season is something special.
“The team has done a great job jelling together this season and the culture is slowly, but surely, coming along.” Bartlett said. “I think this season, more so than the ones in the past, has really created this sense of belief in each other, the program and the process. This group is capable of winning a championship if we stay true to each other and what we’ve done at this point.”
The Cardinals' first game will be against Fordham in the Citrus Classic II on Friday. First pitch will be thrown at 12:00 p.m.