Meredith Wilson's walkoff RBI single in the first game
April 18, 2014
By John Lock
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois softball team kept its momentum rolling with a doubleheader sweep of Loyola on Friday evening at Charlotte West Stadium. The Salukis (23-19, 11-7 MVC) won their sixth-straight Missouri Valley Conference game with a 2-1 walkoff win in the opener and a 7-1 win in the nightcap.
"It's fun getting (the winning streak) up to six in a row," head coach Kerri Blaylock said. "I just hope we can keep it going. They have been playing really well. They don't get down. I thought (Loyola game one starter) Brittany Gardner threw a really good game, but our kids did a really good job just hanging in there and waiting for our moment to strike."
Southern Illinois' pitching was terrific throughout both seven-inning games. After Loyola started the game with back-to-back hits, one of which came into score, game one starter Katie Bertelsen (12-8) scattered three hits and shut out the Ramblers for the rest of the game.
The Saluki offense needed every pitch. Kalyn Harker opened the bottom of the first inning with a single. After that, Loyola starter Brittany Gardner dominated, holding the Salukis without a hit in their next 21 plate appearances.
With Loyola holding a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, Kelsey Gonzalez came through with a leadoff double. She advanced to third on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Taylor Orsburn. Allie VadeBoncouer drew a walk, and Kara Kimball ran for her. Kimball went to steal second on the first pitch, and Loyola's catcher airmailed the ball into center field, allowing Gonzalez to score the tying run and Kimball to advance to third.
"When you battle like that for that many pitches and you get to see everything, it really catapulted us into a sweep," Blaylock said.
Southern's pitching was just as dominant in game two. In fact, after Loyola scored in the first inning of the first game, it didn't score again until the last inning of the last game. Taylor Orsburn pitched her first-career seven-inning complete game and got the win to improve to 5-2 this year. She allowed only three hits in the first six innings, and Southern's offense made sure the second game of the twin bill didn't come down to the last at bat.
"The energy from the bench from Taylor Harris and Caylee Cook, who just bring the energy, that started the Bradley series, and we've just been elevated," Blaylock said. "The kids have fed off it, and there's a lot of unselfish play going on right now."
Southern put up five runs in the third inning of the nightcap. Michelle Glenn led off with a walk and stole second--making her a perfect 15-for-15 in stolen bases at SIU. After Harker sacrificed her to third, the next three batters got a hit to push across three runs. With the bases loaded up, the Salukis got another break on a fielding blunder by Loyola and took advantage for two more runs.
The Salukis added a run in each the fifth and sixth innings, making Loyola's four-hit seventh irrelevant. Southern came into the game figuring to have plenty of base runners--SIU leads the MVC in drawing walks and Loyola leads the league in giving them out. Gardner only allowed gave out three walks in the first game, but one of them turned into the game-winning run. SIU drew seven walks in the second game, allowing it to score seven runs on just six hits.
The Salukis will go for the sweep on Saturday at Noon at Charlotte West Stadium. A win for SIU would be its first seven-game Valley winning streak since winning seven-straight in 2011.