SOFTBALL: Mix of pitching, offense makes for successful weekend for Cards

MilianGÇÖs no-hitter highlights 4-1 Frost Classic record

The Ball State University softball team opened its season last weekend with strong pitching but a stagnant offense.

This weekend, the Cardinals had both, as Ball State went 4-1 in the Frost Classic held in Chattanooga, Tenn., in a three-day period highlighted by dominant pitching and potent offense.

"I think we had a good weekend," coach Craig Nicholson said. "I think we're really starting to figure some things out."

Ball State's showing in the opening game, however, was not at all indicative of what was to come.

The Cardinals (6-4) opened the Classic with a 2-1 loss to East Tennessee State University, a game in which pitcher Audra Sanders' gem was put to waste.

Sanders went the distance for the Cardinals, pitching seven innings and giving up just four hits and two earned runs while striking out seven. But ETSU's Jessica Duncan was just as dominant, also in a complete game effort. She allowed seven hits, but gave up just one unearned run while striking out two.

From that point, however, something clicked in the Ball State bats as the effective pitching remained constant. Over the next four games, the Cardinals outscored their opponents 35-4 to close out the weekend.

Senior ace Elizabeth Milian started the run in Ball State's next game against Wright State University. Milian, the reigning Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year, threw her first career no-hitter, striking out seven Raider hitters and walking none, coming two Ball State errors shy of a perfect game in Ball State's 10-0, five-inning win.

"It was just really nice to see her get [a no-hitter] this year," Nicholson said.

Milian certainly got the run support she had been missing last weekend. The Cardinals tallied 10 hits against the Raiders, nine of which were singles, as second baseman Alyssa Freiling had the only extra base hit of the game with a double.

Senior third baseman Jessica Ware finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while first baseman Kate Wilczynski and left fielder Amanda Carpenter tallied two-hit games for the Cardinals.

From that point, the hit parade continued for the Cardinals and didn't stop until the final out was recorded in the tournament.

Ball State swept Austin Peay State University and Central Connecticut State University by scores of 8-1 and 12-3, respectively, on Saturday.

Against Central Connecticut State, Ball State tallied a season-high 16 hits as freshman second baseman Alyssa Freiling had a perfect game at the plate, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.

"I think the important thing is we've defined our strike zone and we're swinging at better pitches," Nicholson said. "We're starting to get locked in on ‘What do I want to hit?' instead of ‘What can I just get into play?'"

The Cardinals capped off their weekend by blanking previously-undefeated University of Tennessee at Martin 5-0 Sunday behind a one-hitter from Milian.

Milian struck out nine batters and gave up a meaningless single to the Skyhawks' Jenny Bain in the top of the fourth. That runner was eliminated, however, when pinch runner Ashley Byrd was caught stealing second by Cardinals' catcher Amanda Montalto.

"[Milian] was good enough [Sunday]," Nicholson said. "She battled today probably without her best stuff."

The Cardinals look to continue their momentum Friday when they travel to Clearwater, Fla., for 12 games over a nine-day span in a showcase hosted by the University of South Florida.