Ball State Softball begins conference play with series sweep in 1st homestand

A clean sweep.

Ball State (10-9, 4-0 MAC) did exactly that this past weekend, with four wins over Bowling Green (10-13, 2-5 MAC) in its conference opener. 

This series also served as the Cardinals home-opener. First-year head coach Lacy Wood described the environment as “exciting” for all parties involved. 

“We have kids that have been in the program for over a year now and never played a home game yet, so it was exciting,” Wood said. “Not only for the freshmen and sophomores but for the super seniors, who thought they would never get another home game this time last year.”

Ball State pulled away with an 8-6 win in Friday’s opener. Seven different Cardinals recorded at least one hit in the game, with five tallying at least one RBI. Payton believes their ability to go far into the lineup is an accurate representation of the effort behind the scenes.

“Our depth is awesome,” Payton said. “It shows the hard work that we put in and the support we have for each other.”

In Saturday’s doubleheader, Ball State swept the Falcons with final scores of 7-5 and 9-1.

Graduate student infielder Janae Hogg and freshman infielder Kayla Lissy recorded home-runs early on in the first game, but the Falcons stuck around. Junior pitcher Tieghan Morio went on to retire three of the next four batters to secure the win.

In the second game, the Cardinals used a seven-run third inning to pull away. Junior Faith Hensley led the team with two runs and two RBI. Sophomore pitcher Deborah Jones held the Falcons to three hits. 

In Sunday’s 9-5 victory, Ball State found themselves headed to bat down 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Senior catcher/infielder Stacy Payton blasted a home-run to center field that would start a five-run inning for the Cardinals. Payton, who led Ball State with three RBI's, said she believes her and sophomore infielder Haley Wynn’s home-runs were an important step in closing the weekend with a win.

“The main thing today was just staying in attack mode,” Payton said. “Whenever they threw the ball over the white, just be ready to swing, and that’s kind of what happened. It was a good weekend setting the right tone at the start of the conference.”

Wood said she couldn't agree more. 

“[Payton] is our spark plug,” Wood said. “We're talking about being aggressive early in the count, and the first pitch of that inning, she sends it to the right centerfield fence. She set the example and set the tone, and everybody else followed suit.”

Wood said she was pleased with the number of players stepping up in the big moments.

“We relied on different people throughout the lineup,” Wood said. “Every game, it seemed like somebody else was coming in clutch for us, which is a lot of fun. When you look at your lineup, and one through nine can come in and either hit the ball over the fence or challenge you on the base path, it's good to see.”

Ball State returns to the diamond at 3 p.m. Friday, April 2, against Central Michigan (4-13, 2-6 MAC). This game will be the first of four next weekend in Mount Pleasant.   

Contact Charleston Bowles with comments at clbowles@bsu.edu or on Twitter @cbowles01.

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