Ball State softball sweeps Bowling Green on senior weekend

<p>Seniors Jazmyne Armendariz (right) and Haley Wynn (left) pose together after facing Bowling Green April 13 at First Merchants Ballpark Complex. Andrew Berger, DN </p>

Seniors Jazmyne Armendariz (right) and Haley Wynn (left) pose together after facing Bowling Green April 13 at First Merchants Ballpark Complex. Andrew Berger, DN

Home runs, great plays and multiple festivities to celebrate the upperclassmen. Ball State softball’s senior weekend had a bit of everything, including a 3-0 sweep of Mid-American Conference (MAC) opponent Bowling Green. 

“These girls have amazing families and supporters,” Ball State head coach Helen Peña said. “I think that is huge. It just goes to show that we recruit really good people and good families, and it's really exciting to see that.” 

Saturday

After Mother Nature forced a change in schedule, the red and black started its dance with the Falcons on Saturday afternoon. Entering into the doubleheader, the Cardinals were coming off their first series win (2-1 over Buffalo) since March. With momentum seemingly on their side, they did not let the success stop there. 

In the first inning of game one, Ball State’s offense recorded two hits – which included a two-run shot by redshirt junior McKayla Timmons – and four walks, making it through the entire batting order. They led 4-0 when flipping sides. 

“Lately, we've been working on one thing and one thing only,” graduate student Samantha-Jo Mata said. “That's taking control. We're not worried about too much [because] we just want to put a good swing on a good pitch.” 

During the third inning, redshirt sophomore Jessica Hoffman and Mata launched home runs – a two-run and a solo – to help the red and black up the tally. 

With her second home run of the season coming on a senior day, it’s something Mata will remember forever. 

“I've never really quite experienced a moment like that,” Mata said. “It's incredibly emotional and it's hard to put into words. When your parents are here on your senior day [and you’re] able to accomplish that, it’s special.”

The Cardinals’ success wasn’t just in the batter’s box, but also in the circle. Senior Francys King delivered a complete game with four strikeouts and surrendered six hits. To King, seeing the support from family and friends made the difference. 

“My family comes to every game and no matter who's in the stands,” she said. “Whether it's five people or 500, having my family and all of us having our parents there made me feel a lot better about going out there.”

The second game of the day was very similar to the first. The only difference happened in the top of the first inning was when senior center fielder Remington Ross went for a fly ball. After losing it in the sun, the ball caught her in the face. 

After being tended to by the coaching staff and athletic trainer, she was helped to the dugout and visited the emergency room. After the game, she returned to the team’s senior dinner and was back in the dugout on Sunday. 

“Having the whole team there just to celebrate her and focus on her was huge,” Peña said. “She's bought in and she's been great for our culture. She's just been an amazing person to coach.”

The Ball State Daily News requested to speak with Ross on Sunday, but that request was denied.  

After coming together for a huddle after the scene, Ball State’s offense copied and pasted their performance from the game prior. 

They scored five runs with five hits and three walks in the bottom of the first, getting through the entire order again. Another two-run home run by Timmons set the pace for the rest of the game as the Cardinals run-ruled the Falcons 10-0. 

Ball State finished the game with 12 hits and five walks.

After the games, Ball State's 10 seniors were honored as they walked down the third-base line with their families. They were given flowers and jerseys which were framed. 

"It was just an awesome day to have [my family] around," graduate student Jazmyne Armendariz said. "They support me all year round and to have them here to celebrate today was just perfect."

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Junior catcher McKayla Timmons throws a ball to first after a runner against Bowling Green April 13 at First Merchants Ballpark Complex. Timmons had one home run in the game. Andrew Berger, DN

Sunday 

The third and final game of the weekend started a bit different than the previous two installments as the Falcons scored two runs in the top of the first. However, the Cardinals responded with consistent offense, getting through the entire batting order in the bottom of the first for the third straight game.  

“They've done the work and they've prepared,” Peña said. “So when they go in the box, they feel like they know the pitcher already. That's just a testament to their hard work throughout the week.” 

After they took a 10-3 lead in the fifth inning, the Cardinals completed the run rule when Hoffman hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth, giving the red and black an 11-3 run-rule victory. 

Redshirt sophomore McKenna Mulholland recorded three hits in the game and finished the weekend with five. Coming into the series, her approach was simple. 

“See a strike, hit a strike,” Mulholland said, laughing. “The mindset for the whole team coming into the series was to give our best.”

In the circle, sophomore Bridie Murphy pitched a complete game. In 111 pitches, she gave up five hits and recorded seven strikeouts. To her, the Cardinals allowed her to lock in. 

“I was trusting my pitches,” Murphy said. “I knew I had a good team behind me and we had great hitters… Coming out with eight runs in the first innings really helped.”

Overall, Timmons led the Cardinals with two home runs on the series, and sophomore Ashlee Lovett led with seven hits. 

The Cardinals are now on a five-game win streak and have won back-to-back MAC series victories. Ball State will look to keep it going when they travel to Miami (OH) on Tuesday for a doubleheader. The first game is set for 3 p.m. The Redhawks are currently the No. 1 team in the MAC and are on an 18-game win streak. Yet, their success does not scare the red and black.

“There are no nerves,” Mulholland said. “We’re ready to kick their butts.”  

Contact Zach Carter with comments at zachary.carter@bsu.edu or on X @ZachCarter85.

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