While Ball State students celebrated their spring commencement this morning, the Cardinals put up a show of their own in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Closing the year’s regular season, Ball State (32-18, 9-8 MAC) won their doubleheader Saturday, narrowly beating Purdue Fort Wayne's Mastodons (8-36, 3-15 Summit League) and dominating against Oakland's Golden Grizzlies (17-29, 9-14 Horizon League) at PFW’s Softball Field.
The Cardinals and Mastodons were catching up to each other's scores every inning until the fourth, when Ball State sophomore Kendall Fields homered to left field off freshman pitcher Alyssa Malicki, scoring freshman Becca Clanton.
The next three innings went without a single run scored by either team and the Cardinals secured a 4-3 win.
Following this game, Ball State leads the Mastodons 11-6 in their all-time record. Last time the two teams met in 2015, Cardinals won in a doubleheader against the Mastodons 8-2 and 19-4.
Against the Golden Grizzlies, Ball State came out strong, scoring four runs in first inning. The Cardinals secured a 10-0 run rule, ending the game in the fifth inning.
Getting a strong start is something head coach Megan Bartlett said was “incredibly important.”
“Momentum is such an important thing in the sport of softball and I thought our hitters did a really nice job,” Bartlett said.
She said they also did a nice job in terms of discipline.
“They worked to get the pitch they wanted and it paid off,” Bartlett said.
The Cardinals and Golden Grizzlies have met twice before with each team securing a victory. In 2005, the Cardinals beat the Golden Grizzlies, 6-4, and Oakland won the 2017 match up 1-0.
Bartlett said being able to control both games worked in Ball State’s favor.
“Anytime you constantly feel like you’re in control of the game, you can put pressure on the opposing team when you’re hitting you can swing big,” Bartlett said. “The home runs were exciting. I think it gave us some nice momentum heading into the MAC tournament next week.”
Ball State will next play in the 2019 MAC Softball Championship Wednesday at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio.
Sophomore infielder Stacy Payton, the leading run-scorer in the Oakland game with three runs, said the victories meant a lot to the team.
“We’ve got a good team ahead going forward, a little bit of confidence, our hitters are feeling good and our pitching is looking pretty good,” Payton said. “We’re going to keep working hard keep trying get ready for the tournament.”
Bartlett said the wins give the team “a nice little confidence boost” and “some nice momentum” and the team feels ready to go next week.
“Anytime we can get in the driver’s seat and hit the ball hard hit the ball far, we’re pretty tough to beat,” she said.