Salukis Complete Three-Game Sweep of Loyola, Win Seventh Straight

    Katie Bertelsen threw two complete-game wins in SIU's three-game sweep of Loyola this weekend.

    Katie Bertelsen threw two complete-game wins in SIU's three-game sweep of Loyola this weekend.
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    April 19, 2014

    By John Lock

    Box Score

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois softball team (24-19, 12-7 MVC) completed a three-game sweep of Loyola with a 6-2 win at Charlotte West Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The win was the seventh-straight for Southern and have all been Missouri Valley Conference games, taking a once 5-7 MVC team to 12-7 and in third place in the conference.

    "(Associate head coach Jen) Sewell did a great job. She watched the film this morning and came in and told the kids a little bit of a game plan against (Loyola starter Brittany Gardner)," head coach Kerri Blaylock said. "(Sewell) said we were really on the right pitches yesterday, we just weren't staying through the ball. We started hitting some opposite field balls hard, which is what we needed to do. The offense did a really good job with adjustments."

    Loyola (16-27, 7-12 MVC) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning by stringing together three-straight singles. It was familiar territory for the Salukis, who have trailed in six games during their current seven-game winnings streak. Southern struck back immediately when Allie VadeBoncouer scored on a Merri Anne Patterson single. VadeBoncouer walked twice and extended her reached base streak to 25 games.

    Patterson played a big role in the offense, coming through again with a bases-loaded, two-out single in the fifth to add on insurance runs that SIU would need. The freshman went 2-for-3 with three RBIs on the day. Since being inserted into the starting lineup for the Bradley series, Patterson has a .435 on-base percentage and a team-leading nine RBIs. Most importantly, the Salukis have gone 7-1 and vaulted themselves into third in the MVC.

    Katie Bertelsen had a dominant series against the Ramblers. The righty got two wins in two complete games and only gave up three earned runs. After allowing a run in the first inning of the first game of the series, Bertelsen pitched seven-straight scoreless innings overlapping her starts and allowed only two runs on Saturday.



    "She threw some big pitches in some big moments," Blaylock said. "She got some strikeouts when she needed to. She's a competitor. She's going to fight."

    Jayna Spivey doubled twice, setting a new school record for doubles in a season with 16--and she still has eight more regular season games to add to the record. She was one of four Salukis to record a multi-hit game on Sunday, joining Patterson, Kalyn Harker from the leadoff spot and Kelsey Gonzalez, who raised her season batting average up to .336. True to form, Spivey diverted attention from her record-setting season.

    "I'm glad I can be a part of the top-10 of that and really have my mark here, but what's really important to me was adding on that run and getting more insurance for (Bertelsen)," Spivey said.

    Throughout the seven-game winning streak, the message after the game has been the same: SIU's energy in the dugout has been the most important factor. A sampling of quotes from after Saturday's win:

    "The positive energy in the dugout, at practice, in the locker room and everywhere we go now (is the most important factor in the winning streak)," Spivey said. "We're on a roll now. Our confidence is getting better now. This is the peak I've been waiting for, and it's coming at a good time."

    "There's a lot of energy, and that gets me a lot more pumped up and ready to go in the first inning," Bertelsen said. "It helps us out a lot."

    "Our energy has been fantastic recently, and it's shown in our record," Patterson said.

    "I think (the winning streak) is really about the fight and the energy part of it," Blaylock said. "That's a huge part of it."

    Harker provided a huge boost to that energy with her defense in center field. After SIU rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the second, Harker made an over-the-shoulder catch on a dead sprint at the center field wall to save a Loyola run and end the inning.

    "She's an aggressive kid, and she has great speed," Blaylock said of Harker. "She just flies around out there, and that's what you want your outfielders to do."

    Southern Illinois has a chance to get its third three-game sweep of the MVC season on Tuesday when it heads to Evansville, Ind., for a series finale with the Purple Aces. SIU swept a doubleheader from Evansville on Wednesday at Charlotte West Stadium as part of the winning streak.