The strongest start to Mid-American Conference play in program history.
That statement holds true for Ball State (21-10, 15-0 MAC) after its fourth consecutive conference series sweep against Akron (3-27, 2-14 MAC) over the weekend.
“It definitely gives us some confidence,” head coach Lacy Wood said. “We've been talking about just continuing to get better every day that we step on the field, and to keep moving in the right direction.”
In Friday’s opener, the Cardinals escaped with a 6-5 comeback victory. After falling behind 5-1, Ball State scored four runs in the top of the third. Senior Stacy Payton, senior Kennedy Wynn, senior Delanie Johnson and junior Faith Hensley all scored.
In the top of the fifth inning, freshman infielder Kayla Lissy hit a two-out RBI single that sent Hensley home for the game-clinching score. Lissy and Wynn were each responsible for the final five points. Both finished with two RBIs apiece.
Sophomore pitcher Deborah Jones threw the first five innings and secured the win. Junior pitcher Tieghan Morio threw the last two innings and retired six of the seven batters she faced.
“[Akron] had an interesting plan against us,” Wood said. “It took us a little bit to get things rolling, but being able to rely on our defense was great for us.”
In Saturday’s doubleheader, Ball State won 5-4 (eight innings) and 7-1.
Senior infielder Janae Hogg hit her 42nd career home run in the fourth inning to cut the Zips lead to one, but Akron extended its lead to 4-2 in the fifth. The Cardinals scored a point in each of the last three innings to pull off the come from behind victory. Each point came in the form of a home run with Hensley, Payton and Wynn all connecting on homers. Senior pitcher Alyssa Rothwell picked up the win on the mound.
Ball State never trailed in route to its second win. Graduate student Haley Dominique finished 3-for-4 with one run scored and a team high three RBI. Senior pitcher Darcie Huber earned the win, while Jones picked up her third save of the season after pitching the final three innings.
The Cardinals finished the weekend with a 6-0 shutout Sunday afternoon. Ball State pieced together a four run second inning, powered by Wynn’s fifth home run of the season. Redshirt sophomore Jazmyne Armendariz wrapped the scoring up in the top of the seventh inning with her first home run of the season.
Huber, Jones and Morio combined to hold Akron to only two hits in 22 at bats.
“Every time we go out to play, we're always trying not to rely on any one person or any one facet of our game,” Wood said. “It makes it a lot of fun because you can always kind of go to the box and pull out what we need to win today.”
Ball State returns to the diamond Tuesday, April 20, in a road doubleheader against Miami-Ohio (26-6, 16-0 MAC). Both programs are the only undefeated teams remaining in the MAC.
“We haven't put the pieces all together yet,” Wood said. “We're still pushing for that, and we need to come out with all the pieces on Tuesday to do what we need to do against Miami.”