Relaxed.

That was the word freshman pitcher Deborah Jones used when describing Ball State’s (1-0, 0-0 MAC) victory to open the fall season against Huntington.

“We all just had fun,” Jones said. “It was a really nice groove we got into, and I felt like it was easy.”

The “groove” that Jones is referring to started from the get go when the Cardinals took a 5-0 lead in the first inning that saw every starter come up to the plate. 

Before the game began, there was a home run derby for returning alumni of the softball team. The home runs did not end there as two more were sent over the right-center field wall by juniors Kendall Fields and Stacy Payton in back-to-back at-bats in the second inning. The Cardinals totalled eight runs in the second as they batted around again, giving them a 13-0 lead.

“The core of our lineup swung beautifully today,” head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett said. “I was pleased with how the whole team competed today.”

Payton and Fields finished with three and four RBIs, respectively, and the Cardinals eventually won, 15-0.

The story of the game, however, was the performance in the circle by the team’s young pitching core. Sophomore Tieghan Morio and freshmen Jones and Hannah Robinson combined for a shutout.

“They are all a very dangerous complement to each other, if that makes sense,” Bartlett said of her pitching staff.

Ball State has six pitchers on its roster: one senior, one junior, one sophomore and three freshmen.

“Alyssa (Rothwell) led the country in saves last year and is a great senior leader. Tieghan was all-conference and has the ability to do some special things,” Bartlett said. “The three freshman are all very different and highly effective, and if they continue to grind and compete the way they did today — We’re going to be young, but we’re going to be tough.”

Jones, who had four strikeouts in two innings, said she was surprised with herself and her performance.

“They’re all great players, and I just want to meet up to their standards,” Jones said. “Coming in as a freshman is hard, so I was really looking forward to it.”

Ball State will continue its fall season next Friday hosting Taylor at 5 p.m.

Contact Evan Weaver with any comments at erweaver@bsu.edu or on Twitter @evan_weaver7.