Normally, a trip to Florida this time of year is meant for relaxation, but not for Ball State Softball (5-5, 0-0 MAC), as it played five games over the weekend, ending the road trip at the Jacksonville/North Florida Challenge with three wins.
The Cardinals had trouble getting the bats going in the early games Friday and Saturday. They failed to score more than two runs both days, losing 2-1 to Jacksonville (7-3, 0-0 ASC) Friday and 7-2 against North Florida (4-5, 0-0 ASUN) Saturday.
“I think they are putting a lot of pressure on themselves early on,” head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett said. “With the way we swing the bat and play our game, if you do that, and you’re second-guessing the pitches you're swinging at and you’re a little tight, it’s going to be a tough day.”
It was in the late games each night the bats came to life, as the Cardinals won each of their night games 10-1 against Jacksonville and North Florida.
Freshman pitcher Deborah Jones pitched 13 innings across two games, allowing only six hits and one earned run.
“She’s doing a fantastic job for us on the mound right now,” Bartlett said. “And oddly enough, we’ve got a freshman who is doing probably, I think, the best job of just moving on to the next pitch. She’s so dynamic on the mound, but I think, mentality, she lets us be even more effective. She is an absolute competitor, and we are thrilled with how she is performing thus far.”
On Sunday, Ball State played only one game against Alabama A&M (0-10, 0-0 SWAC). In this game, there was no waiting for the offense. In the second inning, the Cardinals capitalized on a few A&M fielding errors to get runners in scoring position and scored five. Another four runs in the fifth inning ended the game early with Ball State taking the 9-1 win to finish the weekend.
Junior catcher Delanie Johnson and senior infielder Janae Hogg each hit their second home run of the season. Johnson is currently batting .500 for the season in 16 plate appearances. Senior pitcher Alyssa Rothwell pitched three innings, allowing only two hits and recording the win.
Ball State takes the field Feb. 21 against Green Bay as part of the Hilltopper Classic hosted by Western Kentucky.