CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Playing in the throwback jerseys of the 2003 Sweet 16 team, the Southern Illinois softball team swept Missouri State in a doubleheader Saturday at Charlotte West Stadium.
The Salukis scored all of their runs in the third inning of a 7-1 win in Game 1 before taking the second game 7-5 on a walkoff grand slam by Jayna Spivey.
The wins helped Southern move to .500 in Missouri Valley Conference play at 6-6 as SIU inches closer to .500 overall at 18-20. Southern started 0-4 in the MVC but has now won three consecutive Valley series to move into the top half of the league. MSU fell to 15-23 overall and 6-7 in the MVC.
SIU celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the 2003 Sweet 16 team between games Saturday. Saluki head coach Kerri Blaylock said having the 2003 squad on hand for the doubleheader sweep was special.
"I told them last night when I was with them, I hope you give us good energy," Blaylock said of the 2003 team. "We had great energy today. They were a special group to me."
SIU 7, Missouri State 1
Game 1 Box
SIU exploded for seven runs on five hits in the third inning to give the Salukis all the offense they needed thanks to a stellar day in the circle for starter Brittney Lang.
Lang (9-10) allowed just one run on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks in a complete game. Southern rewarded the senior hurler with that seven-run third inning.
Saluki sophomore Kalyn Harker got things rolling in the third with a three-run double to score Morgan Barchan, Kara Kimball and Michelle Bradley. Jayna Spivey followed with an RBI double to score Harker, and Taylor Orsburn later hit a single to score Spivey. Meredith Wilson singled to load the bases back up and Kelsea Ashton came up with a two-run single to account for SIU's final runs of the inning.
After a scoreless fourth and fifth inning, MSU finally got on the board in the sixth as Kirstin Cutter hit a leadoff triple and Ashley Brentz drove her in with a sacrifice fly.
That is all the offense the Bears managed against Lang, however, as she closed out the seventh inning to secure the win.
"I think today started with defense, and we threw the ball really well," Blaylock said. "That's what set us up to be able to hit."
SIU 7, Missouri State 5
Game 2 Box
Down to her last strike with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, Jaya Spivey drove Rachel Brisker's offering high over the left field fence to help SIU complete the comeback from a 5-0 deficit.
SIU fell in an early hole against the Bears in game two as MSU scored one run in the first inning and four runs in the third to take a 5-0 advantage.
The Salukis finally got the bats rolling in the bottom of the third as Kelsea Ashton and Morgan Barchan both singled and Kalyn Harker hit an RBI single to score Ashton. Allie VadeBoncouer followed with a two-run single to score Ashton and Harker, pulling SIU within 5-3.
Sophomore pitcher Katie Bertelsen, who came in during the third inning in relief of starter Alyssa Wunderlich, was solid in the final four innings. Bertelsen (3-2) allowed the final run of the third inning, but kept the Bears scoreless with two hits and no walks the rest of the way.
"Bertie came in and kid of settled us down," Blaylock said. "She looked great today."
SIU had struggled earlier in the day against Brisker, who held SIU scoreless in three innings of relief during the opener and the first three innings of relief in Game 2 on a combined one hit.
"We hadn't gotten good at-bats off this Brisker kid," Blaylock said. "She had done a good job against us, and we felt like we needed to put pressure on her."
Brisker hit SIU's leadoff hitter Lacey Newbold to start the seventh inning before coaxing back-to-back fielder's choices to get two outs. Barchan walked on the following at-bat and Harker followed with a single to load the bases for Spivey. SIU's junior second baseman said she was due after going 0-3 in her previous plate appearances.
"Pretty much the whole game I didn't adjust well to their pitchers, so I knew I was due," Spivey said. "I was seeing that girl well, but I was a little bit out in front my previous at-bats. I just sat back and I knew they were going to give me something to hit."
VadeBoncouer went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBI to lead the Saluki offense in Game 2 while Harker was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
The Salukis and the Bears will be back at Charlotte West for the series finale starting at noon Sunday as Southern looks for its first three-game sweep of the season.
"We need to get a sweep. We are playing well and we are at home. They are on the ropes," Blaylock said. "I know Missouri State and I know they'll come back. We've got to be ready to go."
From: SIU media relations
Follow WPSD Sports on Facebook by clicking here.
Follow WPSD Twitter on Facebook by clicking here.