The fourth combined no-hitter in program history.
A big win on senior day.
And a series sweep.
The Cardinals couldn’t have drawn it up any better.
Ball State gained some traction in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) this weekend as they completed the series sweep against Buffalo.
Ball State (21-21, 11-9 MAC) opened its weekend home series with a doubleheader. In game one, the Cardinals used solid offense and good pitching to capture a 4-1 victory.
One thing that was different from the previous series was the lineup. There were also some position changes.
“Just putting people in different spots and positions,” head coach Lacy Schurr said. “We’re just mixing things up. I think it has paid off and has given people opportunities to get the job done.”
The Cardinals started the win by scoring two runs in the first inning. Both of those came off of RBI groundouts from redshirt senior Jazmyne Armendariz and sophomore McKayla Timmons.
After an RBI double from the Bulls in the top of the fourth, the Cardinals responded with a run in the bottom half and another in the bottom of the sixth.
The Cardinals starting pitcher, sophomore Angelina Russo only gave up two hits in her win of the season. Then, sophomore reliever Emma Eubank finished the job and earned her first save of the year.
Game two saw the Ball State offense continue to shine. They finished the game with eleven hits and limited the Bulls to four as they took the 6-2 victory.
“I think everybody can take a sigh of relief,” Schurr said. “It just builds confidence in us and seeing us executing when we need to execute… It takes pressure off of people when they step in the box.”
The second inning was when the Cardinal bats started to fire up. First, Timmons blasted a solo home run that cleared the centerfield wall by a big distance. She would end the doubleheader going 4-for-6 with two RBIs.
“For me today, I was just trying to focus on contact,” Timmons said. “I've been struggling a bit at the plate with over-swinging and swinging at everything. So just really simplifying my approach.”
Later in the inning, senior Haley Wynn added a two-out single that scored two more runs. After having limited success in the Cardinals’ previous series, she finished the doubleheader going 3-for-6 and had four RBIs.
“I think it's just keeping a positive mindset,” she said. “Coach [Lacy Schurr] talks a lot about trust in the process. And I've tried every single day to grind and focus on getting one percent better and you take that one percent.”
But the Bulls(10-28, 4-10 MAC) would attempt to make a comeback with a pair of solo home runs in the top of the third. In the top of the fifth inning, freshman reliever Bridie Murphy replaced junior Francys King on the mound. She would go on to retire the final nine batters and had five strikeouts. One noticeable thing was: She had fun while she did it.
“I love looking into the dugout and like all my friends cheering for me,” Murphy said. “They’re making faces and having fun and yeah, I enjoyed it a lot today.”
The Cardinals would string a few more runs in the final innings to capture the series.
The final game was a little bit different for Ball State. First of all, the original start time was delayed due to rain. The infamous Indiana weather would continue to affect the game with heavy wind and light sprinkles.
The other reason was that it was senior day. Fifth-year Amaia Daniel celebrated with her parents and her dog after the game.
“It's just awesome and it's really an emotional day,” Daniel said. “I'm just trying to take it all in still, even though as soon as I stepped on the field, I knew that today was going to be special. No matter what the outcome was, I knew I was thankful to the girls that I love and they love me.”
Well, you can say that the outcome was a positive one. Herself, she finished the game with a two-run triple, a double, and a single.
But for the entire Cardinals squad, they used an all-around offensive performance and a combined no-hitter to sweep the Bulls and grab an 11-3 win.
“I think our team knows the importance of games like that,” Schurr said. “Not only just from a conference standpoint but how important it is to send off a senior on a high note. They get excited for each other, which is a lot of fun to see.”
On the mound, Russo looked untouchable as she did not give up a hit and had five strikeouts. But after three runners scored and five walks, Murphy relieved her and looked just as good. She finished the contest with zero hits, zero walks, and two strikeouts.
For Russo, she has now factored in three of the program's 19 no-hitters and now has two of them this season.
“It was a fun game,” Russo said. “I'm getting a little bit better in terms of control. But I mean it worked out, did the job, and had Bridie [Murphy] come in who also killed it.”
But it was not just the defense. The offense was unstoppable and could have a recap all to itself. The Cardinals finished the victory with 14 hits. One of the biggest at-bats of the game was a two-run home run by Timmons. She now leads the team with ten on the season.
One thing that helped the Ball State hit tally was multi-hit performances. In the end, five Cardinals had two or more hits. Those included Wynn, Daniel, Armendariz, Timmons and redshirt freshman Mckenna Mulholland.
With the win, the Cardinals now sit in sixth place in the MAC and are back to .500. They will look to continue their success as they travel to Bowling Green(8-30, 1-16) next weekend. The first pitch is set for Friday, April 21, at 3 p.m.
With the season starting to wrap up, Mulholland believes the Cardinals have one thing on their mind.
“To kick everyone's butt,” she said. “That's all I gotta say. We just take one game at a time and we know we only have a few weeks left. We're just leaving everything on the field.’