Junior Alyssa Rothwell is no stranger to the pitcher’s circle, and she delivered yet another save in game one of today’s double-header against Toledo (17-23, 6-7 MAC) to tally her 12th save of the season. However, Ball State Softball (30-16, 8-6 MAC) would split the bill with the Rockets after falling short in game two.
“We hit some good balls today,” head coach Megan Ciolli-Bartlett said. “We had some runners in scoring position, bases loaded. They just didn’t fall in that second one, but we got a little flustered when they switched pitchers.”
Rothwell entered in the 7th inning of game one, shutting down the Rockets offense for the final three outs and breaking her own single-season save record in Mid-American Conference and Ball State history.
“I had to work to get ahead in the counts to keep up,” Rothwell said. “But as a team, we’ve really grown since the fall and having that family aspect definitely helps with confidence.”
She now has 26 career saves as a Cardinal, which is by far the most in team history. The second-closest is nine held by Nicole Steinbach.
The Cardinals were held without a hit in the first two innings, but came back in the third to notch four, managing to grab two runs to lead the Rockets 2-1.
Sophomore Kendall Fields drove a home run in the fifth, tallying her fourth in as many games. But an RBI double from Rocket freshman Aubrey Reed brought her team within one quickly at a score of 3-2.
Senior Olivia Huffman, with just her fifth hit of the season, notched a homer of her own to help give the Cardinals the game one win, 4-2.
Rothwell closed the door in the seventh for the Cardinals by tossing a scoreless frame, striking out a batter after walking two.
“She has been absolutely tremendous for us as a closer,” Ciolli-Bartlett said. “She embraces the role. It’s her job and she truly loves it.”
Sophomore Erin Hunt was the starting pitcher for the Rockets in game two. She found herself in deep water quickly after loading the bases and walking in a runner. But Hunt bounced back quickly, striking out the next three batters and leaving three Cardinals on base to end the first.
Innings two and three were scoreless, but junior Morgan Paaverud provided a spark for the Rockets in the fourth when she drilled a three-run homer past centerfield to send home senior Kaitlyn Bergman and sophomore Bekah Yenrick.
Sophomore pitcher Maggie McGurk kept the Cardinals on their toes, as she tossed four strikeouts in her first two innings for the Rockets.
An RBI double down the right field line from senior Katie Cozy scored senior Megan Choate to give the Rockets a 4-1 lead in the fifth. Freshman Trinity Eckerty answered in the bottom of the inning with a single to score sophomore Stacy Payton and advance sophomore Hailey Demnianiuk.
Choate drove an RBI double of her own in the top of the seventh, and the Cardinals failed to come back, falling 5-2.
“We have to do a better job of the game within the game,” Ciolli-Bartlett said. “We have to come up with a big hit when the moment arises, and if we do that we’ll be in good shape.”