Katie Bertelsen took the loss despite giving up just two earned runs over seven innings.
May 4, 2014
By John Lock
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois softball team dropped the series finale to Indiana State on Sunday afternoon, 3-0, at Charlotte West Stadium. Despite the loss, Southern remained in third place in the MVC after fourth-place Bradley also lost today. SIU secured its 12th top-three MVC finish in 15 years under Blaylock.
The Salukis looked flat, mustering only two hits and going down in order at the plate four times. In the field, SIU committed two errors, including one that allowed a runner to score.
"If you play a 56-game season, you're going to have a couple of those," head coach Kerri Blaylock said. "I just wish it wasn't today."
Coming into the game, Southern (28-23, 15-11 MVC) had clinched a first-round bye in the upcoming week's MVC Tournament, and it didn't have the ability to move up but could drop to No. 4 with a loss and a Bradley win. Indiana State (27-26, 9-17 MVC), on the other hand, needed a win to have a chance to make its first eight-team MVC Tournament field since 2009.
"I put that a little bit on me," Blaylock said. "It's my job to get them ready to play. We talked about it before the game. We had something to play for; Indiana State had something to play for. They just came out and out-energied us and out-played us."
The lack of offense was out of character for the offensive-minded Salukis. SIU had put up 6.8 runs per game in six Sunday MVC games this year and averaged 9.7 hits in those games. Today, Indiana State starter Taylor Lockwood limited SIU's lineup to two hits total and none after the first hitter of the third inning.
"She threw us the same way," Blaylock said. "She threw curveballs away and some changeups. We didn't make adjustments. We've made adjustments all year; that stuff has not bothered us all year. We just didn't do a good job against her."
SIU starter Katie Bertelsen was solid, allowing just five hits and two earned runs in the complete game. She held Indiana State without a hit for the first 13 hitters of the game, but the first Sycamore hit scored an unearned run in the fourth inning. Indiana State got two solo home runs in the sixth inning to give enough cushion to feel safe.
"I believe our kids will be ready to play," Blaylock said. "In the (MVC Tournament), it's a crapshoot. It's about who gets on a roll, and I believe we have as good of a shot as any."
Southern enters the tournament as hot as any team in the Valley. SIU won 10 of its last 14 conference games and 11 of its last 15 games overall. After playing the first 40 games of the season within two games on either side of the .500 mark, SIU heads into postseason play five games above .500.
"Twenty-five games ago, people were probably questioning if we were even going to get in the tournament," Blaylock said. "We literally strung together. Today just was not a good day for us."