Ball State (22-11, 16-1 MAC) split its road doubleheader against Miami (Ohio) (27-7. 17-1 MAC) Tuesday. Each team entered the matchup undefeated in Mid-American Conference play and atop the conference standings.
“From the moment we got to the field, we felt the tension in the air,” head coach Lacy Wood said. “It’s what you play for and dream about. We got to see our girls get to a different level of intensity, because they knew what was on the line the moment that we came out today.”
In the first game of the doubleheader, Ball State fell behind 2-0 and did not produce a hit through four innings.
The Cardinals ended their slump in the top of the fifth inning with four runs scored. Senior outfielder Kennedy Wynn powered her sixth home run of the season, which resulted in three runs. Wynn, senior utility Delanie Johnson and senior outfielder Katie Janiga all accounted for scores. Freshman outfielder Brooke Ligacki stole home for the other score, which proved to be enough for the 4-2 win.
“We made a few adjustments in the box,” Wood said. “(Wynn) has been fantastic for us this year. When we feel like we need a spark, she seems to be the one for that. She put a good swing on it, and the rest is history.”
Sophomore Deborah Jones pitched all seven innings to earn her ninth win of the season. She held Miami-Ohio to zero hits in the final three innings.
“(Jones) definitely has the ability,” Wood said. “For her to continue to get better every time she has an outing, it's not necessarily surprising. For the team to rally around her as the commander, it was really good to see.”
Ball State used a four-run second inning to claim a 5-0 lead to start the second game. Sophomore infielder Haley Wynn, Johnson, Lissy and Wynn all scored for the Cardinals. Graduate student Haley Dominique recorded 2 RBI in the inning.
Wynn recorded an RBI double to send Lissy in for a score in the sixth inning. Senior catcher Stacy Payton followed with an RBI single that resulted in a score for Wynn.
In the bottom of the seventh, the RedHawks scored eight runs to erase their 7-2 deficit. With the bases loaded, senior outfielder Lily Wilmot connected on a walk-off grand slam. Despite the 8-7 loss, Wood believes the outcome can be a blessing in disguise.
“It's not an easy pill to swallow by any stretch,” Wood said. “I told them that this is a message and a reminder that you can't let off at any moment. It puts us in a position when we play Miami again next week, to make sure that we're safe from first pitch to last pitch every game.”
Ball State returns home Friday, April 23, for its first of four weekend games versus Ohio (16-15, 12-10 MAC). First pitch is 3 p.m.