In a season as long and grueling as softball's, sometimes a team needs an unlikely hero to step up. The star players cannot consistently produce a game-winning hit, and the role players need to do their part to make a team successful.
For Ball State University, that production came from Kristy Stratton on Saturday. A two-out, two-RBI single from Stratton, who was making just her third start of the season, was all the offense ace Elizabeth Milian needed as Ball State defeated Eastern Michigan 3-1 on Saturday at the BSU Softball Complex.
Eastern Michigan got on the board quickly when the second hitter of the game, Courtney Nicholson, hit a solo homerun to left field. It was Nicholson's first RBI of the season.
The score remained at 1-0 until the bottom of the second when Alyssa Collins led the inning off with a single, followed by an Amanda Montalto walk. Two batters later, Stratton delivered. The Cardinals added an insurance run in the third when Lisa Rozanski scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.
Coach Craig Nicholson thought the hit by Stratton was the biggest turning point in the game.
"It was really important," Nicholson said. "Especially after tough day in the second game yesterday. I thought Stratton was a good matchup versus this pitcher, and she delivered."
Stratton also thought her hit was important for the team's momentum.
"We really play off early momentum as a team," Stratton said. "And getting some early runs felt good."
After the early run, hits were hard to come by for the Eagles. Milian (17-2) threw a complete game, yielding only four hits and the lone run in the first. Milian also struck out eight and walked just one.
The Cardinals (23-9, 3-2 Mid-American Conference) will look for a mini-sweep of the Eagles today when they wrap-up their two-game series today in Muncie.