While most of the Ball State student body is in Florida on spring break to relax, Ball State Softball (18-9, 0-0 MAC) was there battling out 12 games in 10 days.
The Cardinals ended with an 8-4 record over the course of the week going 4-1 in the UCF Invitational, won both games of a doubleheader against Bethune-Cookman and went 2-3 in the FIU Invitational.
“I thought the girls competed well,” head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett said. “Any time you are on the road for 10 to 11 days when you aren’t sleeping in your own bed and you are eating out constantly, it can be a lot. I think the girls did a nice job of battling through this back half of the weekend.”
The ability of the older players to keep the team pushing through a long, tiring road trip is something Bartlett is proud of and believes it can prepare this team for the end of the season which is when the fatigue may start to kick in.
“Yeah, I think it definitely speaks volumes,” Bartlett said. “We have a lot of veterans in the lineup and a phenomenal senior class. They compete well, have a great energy about them and keep it light at the right times, which I think works well with this set of kids.”
It isn’t just this trip that opens the eyes of the coach, it is the overall pride of the team to fight through a difficult moment and dig deep at any moment.
“I just thought this trip speaks to the experience on the field and the level of maturity,” Bartlett said. “They take a lot of pride in how they play the game and how they represent the university and sometimes that is what you have to have in order to dig deep.”
At the plate, Junior catcher Stacy Payton ended the week with two home runs and 14 RBI’s followed by sophomore Amaia Daniel, who had six RBI’s and 10 hits.
“Amaia Daniel and Stacy Payton had a heck of a week at the plate,” Bartlett said. “I honestly thought we got some really good pitching performances from just about everybody. I thought three of the games we lost came from the defense.”
On the mound, sophomore pitcher Tieghan Morio went 4-3 and allowed two earned runs over the course of seven games pitched. Freshman pitcher Deborah Jones went 5-1 in six games and allowed four earned runs with 31 strikeouts.
“Tieghan Morio got the win against Tulsa and Deborah threw the whole game, then threw again the next morning and as a pitcher, that is tough,” Bartlett said. “It has been a ton of travel with 12 games in 10 days.”
The Cardinals head to Michigan to take on the 15-8 Spartans for a three-game series starting this Saturday.
“We get to go home, take a few days off, get recharged then get back to it,” Bartlett said. “What is it going to be like on fresh legs? We are pumped about the Michigan series and I think it is going to be a good yardstick. It would be a big deal if we could steal a series against the perennial Big 10 champs.”