Senior Taylor Orsburn
March 11, 2014
By Tyler Wooten
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Saluki softball team only managed five hits against the dominant pitching staff of Central Florida, but it was enough for pitchers Shaye Harre and Katie Bertelsen to guide SIU to a 5-4 victory over the Knights on Tuesday at the UCF Softball Complex.
"Really proud of the kids today," said SIU head coach Kerri Blaylock. "We took a tough loss on Sunday and they bounced back so well. We got great pitching from Shaye and Bertie and our offense did a great job."
The scoring wasn't always pretty for the Salukis (10-10), but they were able to capitalize on three crucial mistakes by the Knights (16-8) for runs. In addition to a two-run homer by Taylor Orsburn (2-for-3, two RBIs, HR) in the second inning, Southern scored on an error, a wild pitch and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch to gain a 5-1 advantage after four innings of play.
Orsburn, a senior native of Alto Pass, Ill., came up huge in the second for Southern with a line-drive home run over the right field wall after Kelsea Ashton (1-for-3) led off the inning with a single. SIU only got one more hit the rest of the way, but Southern beat the Knights at their own game as a superb Saluki defense and a clutch SIU pitching staff were able to stymie UCF in the end.
"Taylor Orsburn had a great day at the plate," Blaylock said. "She set the tone for us offensively. And defensively, we continue to be really solid as well."
Freshman Shaye Harre had her six-game hitting streak snapped, but her work in the circle proved invaluable for the Salukis. Harre gave up three hits in six shutout innings for SIU before the Knights started to mount a comeback.
Southern's victory comes off a 2-3 weekend at the Under Armour Classic in Jacksonville that saw an offensive explosion from the Salukis, a stark contrast from today's pitching and defense-dominated contest against the Knights. SIU's offensive production against UCF is still impressive considering that entering today's game, the Knights were holding opponents to 1.8 runs per game and held the nation's 18th-best team ERA at 1.55.
"We beat a very good team today," Blaylock said. "We were trying to focus on finishing out our pre-season on a good note to get ready for conference, and I feel we did that."
The Salukis now head into the Missouri Valley Conference season at .500 overall. This weekend marks the beginning of the MVC slate, as SIU will open up at home against conference-leader Northern Iowa (11-6) on Saturday and Sunday at Charlotte West Stadium.