Salukis Run-Rule Murray State, 9-1, in Five Innings

    Taylor Orsburn moved into fifth in school history with 124 career RBIs.

    Taylor Orsburn moved into fifth in school history with 124 career RBIs.
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    April 1, 2014

    By John Lock

    Box Score

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois softball program (16-15) rolled to a 9-1 five-inning run-rule game over Murray State (16-17) on Tuesday afternoon at Charlotte West Stadium. The Salukis exploded for seven runs in the third inning and capped it off with two more in the fifth to send everyone home after just an hour and 25 minutes.

    Southern's lineup got a big shake-up; head coach Kerri Blaylock moved Taylor Orsburn into the No. 5 spot--the first time in the last 25 games Orsburn has not hit leadoff. And Orsburn responded in a big way, hitting a grand slam in the third inning to start the rout.

    "I definitely didn't (know it was a home run)," said Orsburn, who noted she feels more comfortable lower in the lineup. "I thought I popped up to the center fielder. It felt good, though. (I knew it was gone) when I was rounding first base and I heard Buddy (Foster)."

    Orsburn's four-RBI day gave her 124 for her career, which ties her with Katie Wilson for fifth on SIU's career RBI list. With teammate Jayna Spivey holding the school record, Southern boasts two of the school's six-best RBI producers in the heart of the order.

    Orsburn wasn't the only one who benefited from the batting order change. Kalyn Harker stayed red hot with a 3-for-4, three RBI, two runs-scored day as the new leadoff hitter. Harker doubled home Kelsey Gonzalez and scored the game-ending run in the bottom of the fifth--in addition to being just a home run away for hitting for the cycle.



    "(Taylor Orsburn) is truly not a leadoff hitter," head coach Kerri Blaylock said. "All year, we haven't had someone who would step up, so I had to put her there. Kalyn (Harker) has been getting better and better, so we decided in a non-conference game to try it. Taylor is more a 3-4-5-type hitter, and, yeah, it worked out really well."

    Eight SIU starters got a hit, and the starter who didn't get a hit, Kelsea Ashton, didn't record an at-bat because she walking twice. combined with the pitching performance of Katie Bertelsen, who threw her fifth complete game in her last seven outings and did not give up an earned run, Southern made the blowout look easy.

    "Our offense and Bertie were great," Blaylock said. "Bertie has been giving us quality start after quality start after quality start, and our offense really came to play."

    Bertelsen lowered her ERA to 3.29--down 1.30 in the last three weeks after posting a 1.80 ERA in the 46.2 innings since.

    The Salukis improved to 2-1 in its midweek games after splitting a doubleheader with Saint Louis last week. Southern has a quick turnaround, heading to Edwardsville for a 4 p.m. matchup with SIUE tomorrow. A year after winning just two midweek games all year, the Salukis will be looking to surpass that in their fourth chance on Wednesday.

    "I feel like this team could be pretty good," Blaylock said. "We have to fight; we have to stay in it; we have to be ready to play."