Madison Lee high fives Madd Labrador after Lee scored a run in the second inning. Ball State lost to Kent State April 7 at the Softball Field at First Merchants Ballpark Complex. Eric Pritchett, DN
Offense ignites for Ball State Softball at Madeira Beach Invite
While the Cardinals flew back to Muncie for the week after their season-opening tournament in Fort Myers, Florida, the team only had to head two hours down the road for the Madeira Beach Invite this past weekend.
Alongside the temperature, the bats heated up for Ball State Softball (7-4, 0-0 MAC) as they would bat home 21 runs over the course of six games, clinching victories over Monmouth, Central Arkansas, Quinnipiac and Delaware.
"I thought the girls were gritty and tough this weekend," head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett said. "We saw a lot of nice pitchers and we saw a lot of different pitchers over the course of six games. I thought the girls did a good job of pitch selection and sticking to the process. We just constantly had people on base all weekend."
Junior Janae Hogg led the charge with two home runs on the weekend to open up scoring against Delaware and Central Arkansas. She would finish up the weekend with an RBI of six with five hits and three runs scored.
"It's not just about getting a big hit in a big movement and a few of our kids know that," Bartlett said. "Janae continues to be a rock and outstanding for us. There's got to be people around her that can hit after her, get on base after her. Anytime you have good discipline at the plate, that's just going to amplify and enhance your chances of getting a good hit."
The invite didn't start off the way the Cardinals had hoped. Ball State was on the losing side of a 4-0 shut out against Belmont where the Bruins would post a no hitter striking out nine in the effort. The Cardinals would rebound in the afternoon in a 4-0 win over Monmouth, seeing senior Aeshia Miles pick up her first win of the season and junior Alyssia Rothwell pick up her third save on the season.
Saturday kicked off with a win over Central Arkansas, 5-4. Hogg's bomb to center in the first inning would give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead before the Bears would tie it off with a homer in the third. While the bats were alive for the Cardinals, it was two walks to home that would bring in the game tying and winning runs.
"The more pitchers we see, the better and better our selection is going to be," Bartlett said. "We won a couple of games this weekend just taking walks at the plate with the bases loaded. That's a big deal and those were tight ball games all the way down to the end. We're beginning to sharpen up, but that's a big part of out offense in being mature at the plate."
Saturday wrapped up with a 9-0 thrashing of Delaware state, seeing the Cardinals walk in five runs over the course of the game. Freshman Sarah Venker struck-out five and only allowed two hit in her third career win.
Sunday started off with the Cardinals winning a thriller over Quinnipiac, 3-2, in extra innings. Once again, the Cardinals would be walked home to the win as sophomore Katie Janiga would be walked in. The tournament finished in a 5-1 loss to Murray State. The only score would come from a single from junior Haley Dominique bringing in sophomore Hailey Demnianiuk.
Cardinals finish the tournament at 4-2 and improve to 7-4 in the early season. The team heads out to California for the first time since 2012 Silicon Valley Classic I. Bartlett said the team is excited to see some teams and styles they don't compete against frequently.
"There's a lot of teams we really never get a look at," Bartlett said. "I think it's going to test our defense a little bit and they're going to have more deep players then we're used to just by the nature of their game. We're going to have to make some good adjustments at the plate and be disciplined."