Ball State softball opens MAC play with 2-1 home series victory over Ohio

<p>Graduate student infield Haley Wynn is circled by the Cardinals during the game against Ohio March 16 at First Merchants Bank Ballpark. Wynn helped the Cardinals earn three points with teammates on bases in the sixth inning. Kate Tilbury, DN</p>

Graduate student infield Haley Wynn is circled by the Cardinals during the game against Ohio March 16 at First Merchants Bank Ballpark. Wynn helped the Cardinals earn three points with teammates on bases in the sixth inning. Kate Tilbury, DN

After being on the road for over a month, Ball State (13-13) returned home for the first time this season to the friendly confines of First Merchants Ballpark Complex to square off against Ohio (12-12) in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) opener for the Cardinals.

With being on the road for an extended period, the Ball State faithful were anxious to watch their hometown Cardinals take on the Bobcats. The fans showed up for their team for the home opener filling every part of the bleachers. The fan support meant a lot to Cardinals head coach Helen Peña.

“The support and the turnout [was amazing],” Peña said. “Especially seeing all these little girls here, it makes the players appreciate the sport even more knowing that there’s little kids that aspire to be in their shoes.”

With the amount of young Ball State fans who attended the game, the Cardinals took time to sign autographs and interact with their supporters. 

“[Peña] is really passionate about getting out into the community,” graduate student Haley Wynn said, “Having the young girls come see us [is important]. We are role models for them and that’s a lot of our why’s.”


The Cardinals struggled out of the gate offensively only registering one hit through the first three and a half innings. The singular hit came from junior McKayla Timmons, who hit a solo shot to give the black and red an early 1-0 lead at the end of the first inning.

After the lone hit, the Cardinal bats went quiet for much of the rest of the game. Ohio senior Yasmine Logan responded in the third inning with some power hitting of her own with a three-run homer to give the Bobcats a 3-2 lead. 

The green and white continued to stifle the Cardinals’ offense through the fifth inning and continued to score their own with another two-run shot from Logan, giving Ohio a 5-3 lead heading into the sixth inning. It came down to crunch time for Ball State if there were any hopes of coming back from the deficit. 

“It was about belief,” Peña said. “Knowing that we have to commit to the plan and the process. They bought into the plan and we were able to come up big.”

Ball State senior Jazmyn Armendariz came to the plate with a chance to draw the Cardinals closer after senior Remington Ross was walked. Armendariz then scored Ross with an RBI single to give the black and red a chance. Timmons walked to the plate, but the Bobcats elected to intentionally walk her, which gave Wynn the chance to take the lead with two runners on base. As Timmons headed to first base, she gave Wynn some encouragement.

“I thought it was really disrespectful,” Timmons said. “I don’t know if they thought she would take it easy on them but I told her not to take that disrespect.”

On the first pitch of the at-bat, she hit a rocket to dead center, which cleared the fence and put the dagger in the hearts of the Bobcats to give Ball State the 7-5 victory.

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Graduate student infield Haley Wynn points in joy after a home run to center field against Ohio March 16 at First Merchants Bank Ballpark. Wynn helped the Cardinals earn three points with teammates on bases in the sixth inning. Kate Tilbury, DN

Ball State’s offensive success carried over from the latter half of the first game into the second game as the Cardinals won the contest 5-0.

In the second inning, Timmons bombed her second home run of the afternoon. This time it was a three-run shot to put the Cardinals up 3-0 in the second inning. The homer was her No. 15 on the season.

“Every time I get in the box, I’m trying to find a good barrel,” Timmons said. “If I can help my team get ahead, and get on base, I don't try to go up there to hit home runs all the time. It’s never the intention. I just try to have productive at-bats.”

One thing that was missing in the first game was the defense from the black and red. It seemed that there was a lot more energy on that side of the field in the second game to help lead the Cardinals to victory. 

Part of that defensive change came from new pitcher, sophomore Bridie Murphy, who pitched the shutout for Ball State, only allowing four hits in seven innings.

Another note for the Cardinal defense was even though the black and red gave up five runs in the first matchup, throughout both games, they were able to go errorless on the afternoon which is an impressive feat. 


Coming into the third game of the weekend, the Cardinals were seeking a sweep. Yet, the end result was a 2-1 series victory as the red and black fell 7-0 to the Bobcats.

While the previous two games had wind blowing out of the ballpark, Sunday’s contest was the opposite as it blew to home plate. Yet the wind did not make that much of a difference as the Cardinals finished the game with only five hits. The biggest issue came after the hits because Ball State could not buy a run. 

“We were second-guessing [ourselves] instead of trusting and attacking like we did yesterday,” Peña said. “There was an inconsistent approach and that’s why it was hard to rally.”

After the Bobcats took a 2-0 lead with an RBI single and RBI double in the top of the first, the score remained the same until the top of the sixth, when a two-run home run extended their lead to 4-0. During the top of the seventh, Ohio recorded three RBIs and put the contest out of reach. 

Ball State’s three pitchers – starter sophomore Bridie Murphy and relievers senior Francys King and redshirt junior Emma Eubank – allowed 12 hits, which was one more than the two previous games combined (11). 

While the Cardinals did not complete the sweep, they still walked off the field with a series victory. To Wynn – who recorded a single – it was a step in the right direction. 

“The team got really strong and it was nice to see the home crowd,” she said. “We looked great, the energy was great, and it just felt really special.” 

The Cardinals will return to First Merchants Ballpark Complex Friday, March 22 to kick off a three-game series against Kent State (14-8). The first pitch is set for 3 p.m. 

Contact David Moore with comments at or on X @gingninj63. Contact Zach Carter with comments at or on X @ZachCarter85


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