The Ball State University softball team doesn't really remember what a weekend in Muncie is like.
But for the first time all season, the Cardinals will play at home after 26 straight games away from the BSU Softball Complex.
Ball State opens Mid-American Conference play today with the first of its two-game series against Miami University.
There's a little more to this matchup than meets the eye. After all, it was the RedHawks who defeated the Cardinals last season in the MAC Tournament, forcing Ball State into a win-or-go-home matchup that ultimately ended its season. Miami, meanwhile, went on to win the MAC Tournament.
The Cardinals (20-6) will also look for a little respect nationally. After receiving seven votes in last week's USA Today/National Fast Pitch Coaches Association Top 25 poll, Ball State didn't receive a single vote in this week's poll, despite defeating IUPUI 11-4 in its only game of the week on Tuesday.
The RedHawks (11-14) this season have practically been the only MAC team to keep up with the Cardinals in pitching and fielding. Miami is second to Ball State in the conference in both categories, but its weakness lies in its offense. The RedHawks are hitting just .229 as a team – ranking them eighth in the conference – while Ball State is second in the MAC with a .281 team batting average.
Miami is led by sophomore Daniela Torres and senior Sarah Billstrom. Torres has a team-best .348 average and ranks second on the team in runs (10), hits (24) and RBI (10). Billstrom – a two-time First Team All-MAC selection – leads the RedHawks with five home runs and 11 RBIs.
Sophomore Jessica Simpson leads the Miami pitching staff. The reigning MAC Tournament MVP is 8-7 this season with a 1.58 ERA and has 80 strikeouts.
Today's game begins at 2 p.m., while tomorrow's series finale begins at 1 p.m.