Ball State (10-18, 3-2 MAC) earned its first three wins in conference play this weekend, defeating Kent State (9-17, 1-7 MAC) 8-5 and 4-1 April 1 and 11-3 April 2.
“I feel like they played how they were capable of playing all year,” head coach Lacy Schurr said. “We’ve told them all along, ‘Just trust in the game plan, stick to it, and that’s what they did.'”
In the first game of the series, Ball State had a five-run second inning, paced by a three-run home run from sophomore first baseman McKayla Timmons.
The Golden Flashes attempted a comeback, scoring two runs in the third and fifth, but Ball State scored two runs in the fourth and one in the sixth to win 8-5.
“We went in this week as a team and we had a plan,” junior third baseman Haley Wynn said. “We knew what the pitchers were going to be throwing, we were scouting them really hard. Each practice, we had intentions when hitting, and I think we executed that to a T.”
In the second game, the Cardinals started fast again with senior second baseman Amaia Daniel drawing a walk that allowed senior left fielder Faith Hensley to score in the first inning. In the following at-bat, Kent State senior pitcher Andrea Scali hit graduate student catcher Delanie Johnson with a pitch, allowing Wynn to score. In the second inning, Wynn sent the first pitch of the count to deep right field for a two-run home run.
“I knew the inning before the pitcher was struggling to find the strike zone,” Wynn said. “I knew she was going to bring me something over the plate and I’m a big fan of rice balls. As soon as I saw it out of her hand, as soon as I saw the top of the ball, I knew I was swinging right away. Right off the bat, I knew it was gone.”
Freshman pitcher Angelina Russo was on her way to a no-hitter, but an RBI single by Golden Flashes sophomore third baseman Alex Fiske ended the possibility, and a score by graduate student pinch-runner Jada Crittendon ended the shutout. Russo allowed one hit and led the Cardinals to a 4-1 win.
“It’s definitely a bummer [to lose the no-hitter], but it was a win,” Russo said. “It was a great game and you can’t complain about it, even if it is annoying."
In the final game of the series, both teams had shots that cleared the wall. Ball State's sophomore shortstop Kayla Lissy drove a three-run home run in the first inning to push the Cardinals’ lead to four. In the second, Hensley had a two-run homer to left-center that added the lead to 6-0.
Kent State's fifth-year senior right fielder Madyson Cole drove a three-run home run to center field in the third inning that would be the only scoring play of the game for the Golden Flashes.
Ball State added five more runs in the fifth inning, a solo home run from sophomore pinch hitter Samantha-Jo Mata and a two-run homer from Hensley, ending the game prematurely with an 11-3 scoreline.
The three wins are the first three wins in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) for Ball State, after dropping a doubleheader against Central Michigan March 25-26. Russo said these victories fuel the Cardinals confidence for the rest of the MAC schedule.
“It’s a really big couple of wins coming from last weekend, too,” Russo said. “It puts us in a good direction all around on offense and defense and it really just set us in the right direction for the rest of the conference.”
Ball State has a quick turnaround, playing April 5 on the road against Northern Illinois (8-15, 2-4 MAC). The first pitch is at 4 p.m.