Freshman Katie Janiga high fives her teammates in celebrating the last hit during the game. The Ball State Cardinals won against Kent State with a score of 15-7 at the Softball Field at First Merchants Ballpark Complex on April 6. Carlee Ellison, DN
Ball State softball: 43-year history and upward momentum
Editor's note: In honor of the university's centennial year, The Daily News is counting down 100 days to the university's celebration Sept. 6 with 100 of Ball State's most famous traditions and figures. Check back each day to read about Cardinal history.
Founded in 1975, Ball State softball has found arguably its longest stretch of success over the last decade, holding an all-time record of 1,008-1,037-4.
Between 2009-18, the Cardinals have captured all six of their Mid-American Conference regular season championships, including two in the West Division. The six regular season championships are tied for the second-most in the MAC with Kent State, trailing only Central Michigan’s 10.
Ball State has won three MAC Tournaments in its 43-year history, all of which led to its only NCAA Tournament appearances in 1998, 2010 and 2015.
Jenny Gilbert became the first player from the program to earn All-America honors in 2013 when she was named to the third team. She followed that historic season by earning a second team selection during her senior season in 2014.
As one of the most decorated players in program history, Gilbert became the first three-time MAC Player of the Year, becoming the 11th player in NCAA Division I history to win her conference’s player of the year award three times. She finished her career ranked eighth in NCAA Division I history with 75 home runs — a mark that is now good for 15th in history — the most among Canadian-born players. Gilbert went on to be drafted 10th overall in the National Pro Fastpitch Draft — the only professional women’s softball league in the United States — by the Akron Racers.
The Cardinals have knocked off a pair of top-three opponents since 2010. The first was a 2-1 victory at then-No. 3 Missouri on March 19, 2010. Four years later, they did it again when visiting then-No. 3 Arizona State and winning with a 3-0 shutout.
The program has won 37 or more games just five times in its history, the most recent being 2018. The Cardinals won a program-record 43 games in 2010 and 40 in 2012, the only two seasons in which the they’ve eclipsed the 40-win mark. In 1988, the program set its record for shutouts with 16.
As any program does, Ball State softball has had its ups and downs, but if current trends hold true, the program should keep moving in the right direction.