The Ball State softball team concluded its regular season on Sunday. A meaningless loss to Kent State moved the Cardinals’ overall record to 36-14, with an 18-3 mark in Mid-American Conference play.
It was senior day at the Ball State Softball Complex. Since Ball State locked up the MAC regular-season title prior to Sunday’s game, the plan was to start senior pitcher Lauren Williamson.
In the first start of her career, Williamson pitched 2.1 innings. The senior faced 11 batters, and gave up just three hits and one run.
A second senior pitcher, Audra Sanders, relieved Williamson and pitched 1.2 innings of her own. The peak of her time in the circle was overshadowed by a rain delay.
After the one-minute and 37 second stoppage, a Ball State error put runners at second and third. Sanders would give up three consecutive walks while trying to deal with the wet conditions.
After the Golden Flashes jumped out to a 4-0 lead, freshman pitcher Nicole Steinbach would take over. Steinbach struck out two batters with the bases loaded, and forced a groundout to wrap up the inning.
The freshman allowed just two hits and one run over three innings pitched. Head coach Craig Nicholson was glad to get Steinbach in the game for the short stretch.
“She was pretty sharp today, a little wild actually,” Nicholson said. “Maybe a little bit too much rest for her, but she had really good velocity. That was about as much as we wanted to throw her today … we don’t want them seeing too much of her.”
With Sunday’s win Kent State locked up the no. 2 seed in the MAC tournament set to begin on Wednesday. Hypothetically, if both the Cardinals and Golden Flashes win their respective first games they would square off in their second games.
Though the team held some punches in the pitching game, the offensive rotation was at full strength. Despite having fallen behind 5-3, they were nearly able to tie things up in the bottom of the seventh.
Junior outfielder, Jennifer Gilbert, nailed a triple to start the inning. Junior first baseman, Taylor Rager followed Gilbert with a big hit of her own. Her ball was, as Nicholson put it, “one-tenth of an inch from being a home run.”
Instead, a pop up fly ended the inning and the game. Nicholson said that he was pleased to see his team competing with confidence at the end of the game, something they have done well all season.
Ball State will return to action at 5 p.m. on Thursday. The Cardinals’ opponent will be decided by tournament games played on Wednesday.