SIU Starts Fast in 9-0 Run-Rule Win over UT-Martin

    Kelsey Gonzalez went 2-for-2 with a home run and 3 RBIs to push her season batting average up to .336.

    Kelsey Gonzalez went 2-for-2 with a home run and 3 RBIs to push her season batting average up to .336.
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    April 24, 2014

    By John Lock

    Box Score

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois softball team jumped on UT-Martin early and got a complete-game shutout from Taylor Orsburn to grab a 9-0 run-rule win in five innings on Thursday afternoon at Charlotte West Stadium. The win was the sixth-straight home win for the Salukis and eighth win in the last nine games overall.

    "UT-Martin is a really feisty team, and they don't give up," head coach Kerri Blaylock said. "I was really proud of the way we played defense, and we finished out that last inning. We kept our composure."

    SIU (25-20) came into the game having trailed in seven of its last eight games, but Kelsey Gonzalez made sure early the Southern wouldn't be starting slow today. With two on and two outs in the first inning, Gonzalez hit a monster shot over the left field fence. Her hit ignited a massive two-out rally, with Southern sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring six runs in the first inning alone. All of the runs came with two outs.

    "It's always good to get an early jump like that, especially six runs," Gonzalez said. "Then we came back in the second inning and put more runs on them and really put the game away. We've been playing good defense recently, and great pitching by Taylor (Orsburn) kept them with no runs."

    Meanwhile, Taylor Orsburn made sure the Skyhawks (23-24-1) never threatened all game. Orsburn pitched her first complete-game shutout and didn't allow a runner to reach third base until UT-Martin's final at bat.

    "A kid who hasn't thrown for five years (Orsburn) throws a shutout against (UT-Martin), a great offensive ballclub," Blaylock said. "She continues to amaze me."



    Orsburn faced only 19 Skyhawk hitters. Meanwhile, Southern sent 18 hitters to the plate in the first two innings alone. Southern added three more runs in the second inning. Shaye Harre singled, and Gonzalez followed with a walk. Orsburn singled behind them to load the bases, and Meredith Wilson and Kelsea Ashton made productive RBI outs to get three runners across.

    Southern played one of its most encouraging games of the year two days after one of its most disappointing losses, a two-run loss to last-place Evansville. After recording just three hits against the Aces on Tuesday, SIU had five hits in the first inning today and ended up with eight hits in four turns at bat.

    "In today's Division I softball, you just have to be ready to play every day. You could lose three; you could win seven; then you could lose four. That's just the way it works," Blaylock said. "You can bounce back-and-forth. All I know is that we've been a team that bounces back really well."

    The first SIU batter of the game proved an indication of good things to come. Kalyn Harker's grounder up the first-base line hit the bag and jumped about 15 feet in the air, allowing her to get in safely with a single. It certainly was a sign of things to come for Harker, who ended up 2-for-3 with a run scored and two stolen bases on the game. SIU was strong in nearly every facet of the game, stealing a season-best five bases and making a number of tough defensive plays throughout the game.

    UP NEXT: SIU heads to Wichita, Kan., for a three-game series with the MVC-leading Shockers. Wichita State, picked eighth in the preseason MVC poll, has stormed the conference this year, holding a multi-game lead over the MVC field for the majority of the conference season. They currently stand at 17-4 in MVC play. SIU, however, has won nine of the last 10 games in the series between the two schools and has won five of the last six games in Wichita.