CARBONDALE, IL -
The Southern Illinois softball team split a doubleheader with Indiana State on Saturday, dropping the first game 4-3 before rebounding for a 6-2 win. The Senior Day split secured a first-round bye for the Salukis in next weekend's MVC Tournament.
A lively crowd of 409 fans--the largest fan turnout of the season--turned out to send off one of the most successful senior classes in school history. They sent off a senior class that closed the day with 795 career starts and 132 career wins--the second-most in the MVC over the last four years.
The Salukis (28-22, 15-10 MVC) didn't start out the day well. Indiana State (26-26, 8-17 MVC) took two hit-by-pitches in the first inning and came through with a two-out, three-run home run to put SIU in a 3-0 hole before its first at-bat. Shaye Harre responded with an RBI double in the bottom half, and Kelsey Gonzalez tied the game in the fifth with a two-run double. The Salukis dropped a pair of running catches on fly balls in the top of the sixth, though, to allow the Sycamores to get a winning unearned run.
"I thought we came out too emotional in game one, and we made mistakes we don't normally make," head coach Kerri Blaylock said. "We needed to settle down, and we did that very well in game two."
Indiana State again got an early lead with a run in the first inning after SIU made a pair of mental errors on top of a fielding error. From there, though, SIU cruised to a 6-2 win. The Salukis got three runs in the bottom of the second inning when Taylor Orsburn, the game's starting pitcher, helped her own cause with a two-run home run. Marianne Patterson added to it with an RBI double that scored Meredith Wilson.
Indiana State clawed out another run in the fourth inning to get within one, but Jayna Spivey hit a two-run blast in the fifth to give SIU a 5-2 lead, and the Sycamores never threatened again. The five seniors fittingly played big in SIU's win. Orsburn pitched a complete game and allowed only one earned run on top of her two-run homer at the plate. Spivey hit a two-run home run that moved her up to fifth place in MVC history in career RBIs. Allie VadeBoncouer threw out back-to-back base stealers in the third inning, and Kelsea Ashton and Michelle Glenn played their usual stellar defense on the left side in the win. "I'm going to miss you," Blaylock told the seniors in the post-game ceremony. "I don't want to think about that right now, but I do love you."
SIU hit four doubles in the doubleheader to improve its season total to 77. The Salukis entered the week ranked No. 27 in the nation in doubles, and its 77 this year tie a school record set in 2007. In the field, Kalyn Harker made the defensive play of the game with a diving, snow-cone grab to prevent a double and keep the bases empty in the sixth inning of the second game.
All three teams fighting for the third and fourth seeds in next weekend's MVC Tournament--Bradley, UNI and SIU--split doubleheaders on Saturday. SIU's game two win combined with UNI's game one loss ensured SIU on of the byes. An SIU win on Sunday would give the Salukis the No. 3 seed.
"Traditionally, if you go back, we have a lot of splits (on Senior Days)," Blaylock said. "Our seniors are all so invested. We are like family, and it's hard on us. It's emotional. That's the reason it happens sometimes."
From: SIU media relations
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