Over the weekend, the Cardinals played five games in the Bulldog Classic. They ended their stay in Athens, Georgia, with a 3-2 tournament record.
“We definitely faced a step up from a pitching standpoint than we faced the past couple of weekends,” head coach Lacy Schurr said. “So it challenged us a little bit and you know, the message was to not try to do anything different than you've been doing.”
On Friday, the Cardinals (8-7) started the tournament with a 3-0 win against Samford (6-14), but then fell to No. 16 Georgia (17-5) 14-8 in their second game of the day.
“Playing that level of a team puts you to the test,” Schurr said. “But I think we learned a lot about ourselves and you know, that we can play with just about anybody in the country.”
The Cardinals then defeated Stetson (14-8) 6-5 where extra innings were needed to decide a winner. Since the international softball tiebreaker rule (in extra innings, a runner of the offensive team's choosing is put on second base.) was in effect, red-shirt freshman McKenna Mulholland was placed at second base.
After a bunt moved Mulholland to third, redshirt-sophomore Emma Richards grounded a ball to shortstop.
“The shortstop went to field the ball and kind of booted the ball once it hit her glove,” Mulholland said.
After seeing this, Mulholland took off and scored the winning run.
“It's amazing,” she said. “We had grit the entire game. Everyone was in it and we knew that we were going to come out with the W, so just being able to do that and then having Emma Richards do that was just rewarding.”
Ball State then took another loss to Georgia. This time, it was a pitchers’ duel that ended with the Bulldogs taking the 1-0 victory. Mulholland believes this contested game showed what this team is all about.
“No matter the name of the school, we're gonna give it all we got to come together as a team,” she said. “We know that we have a great caliber team. Everyone's talented and anyone can step up and do the job. And playing teams like that, we know that it's a priority to play as a team and not individuals.”
In their last game of the weekend, the Cardinals defeated Stetson 3-1.
The game was tied until the senior Haley Wynn hit a two-run single that would eventually become the game-winning hit. Wynn has had early offensive success this season. She credits her mindset for that success.
“I'm keeping it very simple in the box,” she said. “I'm trying to clear my head and this helped me be successful. I'm also going out with the approach of having a quality at-bat every single time which is keeping me competitive in the box against any pitcher.”
On offense, Ball State was led by Wynn and fifth-year Amaia Daniel with seven hits a piece. The two also set career milestones during the tournament. Both of them are now over one hundred runs scored.
“I've said it from day one, you know, they're the table setters for us,” Schurr said. “They set the tone. You know, they're great leaders, not only on the field but off the field as well. So it's just fun to watch them continue to mature as softball players and continue to lead this program.”
Ball State will travel to face East Tennessee State on Wednesday. It is their first non-tournament double hitter. The first game is set to start at 2 p.m.
Contact Zach Carter with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @ZachCarter85.