Salukis Sweep Doubleheader from First-Place Wichita State

    Facing a Wichita State lineup that leads the MVC in nine offensive categories, Katie Bertelsen limited the Shockers to one run and four hits in the opener.

    Facing a Wichita State lineup that leads the MVC in nine offensive categories, Katie Bertelsen limited the Shockers to one run and four hits in the opener.
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    April 26, 2014

    By John Lock

    Game 1 Box Score | Game 2 Box Score | Photo Gallery 

    Postgame Audio: Kerri Blaylock | Kelsey Gonzalez

    WICHITA, Kan. - The Southern Illinois softball team swept a doubleheader from first-place Wichita State on Saturday afternoon at Wilkins Stadium. The Salukis (27-20, 14-8 MVC) got a dominant pitching performance from Katie Bertelsen in the opener and a dominant offensive display in the second game to take two from the Shockers (30-20, 17-6 MVC).

    "We've tried to develop a system this year, and the kids have bought into it," head coach Kerri Blaylock said. "Buddy (Foster) and Jen (Sewell) told me to stick with it, because early on it was trying my patience. They've bought into the system; they fight like you can't believe, and it's really fun to watch the culture grow. I'm really proud of them."

    In the first game of the doubleheader, Katie Bertelsen pitched arguably the best game of her career. Facing the best hitting team in the league--Wichita State came into the weekend leading the MVC in runs, batting average, slugging percentage, and six other offensive categories--Bertelsen (14-8) allowed just one run and held the Shockers to a 4-for-24 display at the plate, leading the Salukis to a 2-1 win.

    "You never would have made me believe that we were going to play a 2-1 game with 30 mile-per-hour winds, but we did," Blaylock said. "I thought we got two great pitching performances. You stick to a game plan and throw the pitches where they're called. I respect the heck out of Wichita. They're a good program, but (Bertelsen) was great today."

    The Salukis jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Shaye Harre came through with a clutch two-out RBI that scored Michelle Glenn, who reached on a fielder's choice after Kalyn Harker led off the game with a single. The Shockers answered right back with a run in the bottom half of the inning. The leadoff hitter walked and WSU got two fielder's choices and a sacrifice fly to score a run without getting a hit.

    From there, both pitcher battled it out until freshman Merri Anne Patterson came through with a two-out solo home run to break the tie and score the game-winning run. Patterson has continued to be a spark for SIU. Since Patterson entered the starting lineup as a regular, the Salukis have gone 10-2 and won 10 of their last 11 games.

    In the second game, it was the offense that was the star in SIU's 10-3 win. The Salukis got a season-high 17 hits, nine of which went for extra bases. SIU's seven doubles tied a school record set in 2007. Meredith Wilson hit one of two SIU home runs and went 3-for-3 in game two--one of four Salukis that posted a three-hit game in the second game.

    Jayna Spivey went 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored. Spivey raised her batting average in MVC play up to .471 through 22 games. Kalyn Harker also had a three-hit day from the leadoff spot and scored two runs. The best day at the plate, however, went to Kelsey Gonzalez, who went 3-for-3 with a home run, a double, three RBIs and four runs scored.

    All the hitting game two made it easy to overlook a great pitching performance from Taylor Orsburn. Orsburn improved to 7-2 on the season and allowed only one earned run. She scattered eight hits over the complete game and walked just two hitters.

    "She is just gutsy as all get-out," Blaylock said of Orsburn.

    Shaye Harre went 5-for-7 in the two games and added three RBIs to her season total. With 40 RBIs this year, Harre cracked the top-10 list for single-season RBIs, and Harre is just a freshman.

    The wins continued SIU's dominance in the series with the Shockers. Southern has now won 11 of the last 12 games between the schools and 15 of the last 17. SIU will now look to make it back-to-back sweeps in games played in Wichita after sweeping the Shockers in 2012.

    The Salukis will be going for a series sweep of the Shockers on Sunday at Noon.