Ball State finishes 2-3 at Chattanooga Challenge

Graduate student utility player Jazmyne Armendariz hits Feb. 13 during a practice at the softball field at the First Merchants Ballpark Complex. Zach Carter, DN.
Graduate student utility player Jazmyne Armendariz hits Feb. 13 during a practice at the softball field at the First Merchants Ballpark Complex. Zach Carter, DN.

Editor's Note: David Moore contributed to the coverage of the Chattanooga Challenge but did not contribute to the writing portion of coverage

Over the weekend, Ball State competed in the Chattanooga Challenge at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. In the Cardinals’ second tournament of the season, they finished the weekend going 2-3.

“This weekend was very frustrating,” Ball State head coach Helen Peña said. “But it's also motivating because in my mind if we don't give games away, we’re walking out of here [with a] 4-1 [record] on the winning side. So I think it's just about focusing on us."


Ball State (3-7) opened the event with a morning matchup with Jacksonville State (2-8). Unlike their performance in the River City Leadoff last weekend, the Cardinals’ offense did not wait to get hot. 

Recording eight hits in the contest, Ball State opened the day with a 6-5 victory. After the Cardinals scored two runs in the top of the first, graduate student infielder Haley Wynn extended their lead in the top of the second with a two-RBI double. 

Throughout the first two tournaments of the season, Wynn has been one of Ball State’s biggest offensive weapons. 

“I'm just going in there and just giving it everything I have to just trust in the process,” she said. “I had a setback in the fall by tearing my UCL and I've never taken a day for granted since then.” 

In the top of the fifth, Ball State had a 5-1 lead. Redshirt sophomore utility player McKenna Mulholland delivered with a two-out double. She then took third base on a wild pitch and scored after graduate student infielder Samantha-Jo Mata hit an RBI single. 

That run became the game-winner as the Gamecocks rallied back in the final few innings. But with the tying run on second base, sophomore Bridie Murphy struck out the Jacksonville State batter to capture the win. 

In the second game of the day, the Cardinals fell to Chattanooga (6-4) 11-7. During the loss, Ball State’s offense continued to shine with 11 hits. Redshirt sophomore pitcher Jessica Hoffman started the scoring with an RBI single and later hit a two-run home run.

“Before that game, I talked to [assistant] coach [Matt] Burns because I was frustrated with my [performance] and he laughed at me,” Hoffman said. ”Basically, [he talked] about two things which were seeing the ball and being on time.

“I was also told not to be too hard on myself. And then in that game, I hit a home run.” 

Graduate student utility player Jazmyne Armendariz also hit a home run – a three-run shot – for her first big fly of the season. Yet Chattanooga’s offense also found success with 14 hits, including multiple RBI singles and a three-run homer.  

Softball 8.JPG
Graduate Student infielder Haley Wynn catches the ball during a practice Jan. 26 at Scheumann Family Indoor Practice Facility. Wynn has a hitting average of .335 from the past four seasons. Mya Cataline, DN


The Cardinals returned to the field on Saturday for a rematch with Jacksonville State. Once again, Ball State finished the contest in the win column, defeating the Gamecocks 5-4. 

While Ball State came out on the positive end, the game started in the opposite direction. After four innings, Jacksonville State led 4-0.  But after RBIs from Hoffman and junior infielder Kaitlyn Gibson, and Mulholland scoring on a throw, the Cardinals tied the game 4-4. 

In the bottom of the seventh, redshirt junior utility player McKayla Timmons hit a sacrifice fly to score redshirt sophomore utility player Hayley Urban, which gave the Cardinals the walk-off win. 

“They are fighters and they're hungry,” Peña said. “It's just about who can execute the best, who can stay in the moment, who can compete one pitch at a time and not make the moment so big. That's what we've been trying to preach is this long sense of winning the game as a whole.” 

The second game of the afternoon saw Ball State fall to Chattanooga 4-3. Throughout most of the game, the Cardinals held a 3-1 lead after three RBIs. However, they only had one hit the entire game to the Moc’s 11.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Mocs scored two runs due to a Ball State fielding error and an RBI double. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Chattanooga scored after a wild pitch and on an RBI double. 

Then the Mocs took the win with an RBI walk-off single. 


In the Cardinals' final game of the weekend, they fell to Western Kentucky 6-4. Just like the rest of the event, their offense started strong with three runs in the top of the second. But in the bottom half of the inning, the Hilltoppers (6-3-1) tied the game and then took the 4-3 lead. 

Even though Timmons hit a solo shot – her second home run of the season – Western Kentucky answered with an RBI double and their own solo home run to steal the win. 

In the games that Ball State led and eventually fell, Peña saw issues that come down to the two different sides of the sport. 

“[The mistakes] are 100 percent mental, but they are also 100 percent preparation,” she said. “If we’re prepared, we should be able to trust our training, trust your reps that you've taken.”

Yet the trust factor was something that Peña tried to push this weekend. On Friday, she had two players choose each other and made them promise they would play for them.

"We went around and each person stood next to one another and you looked them in the eyes and said, 'I'm gonna play for you today," Wynn said. 

Wynn and Armendariz partnered up as they have both been apart of the program for the last five years.

"She's been a ride or die of mine, and I would do anything for her and I know that she would do the same," Wynn said. 

Hoffman led the team with a .333 batting average over the weekend and tied with Wynn and Timmons for five hits a piece. 

Ball State will be back when the Cardinals compete next weekend in the I-75 Tournament at Kennesaw State. Their first game is against the Owls on Friday, Feb. 23. The first pitch is set for 3 p.m. 

Contact Zach Carter with comments at or on X@ZachCarter85.


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