Junior Michelle Bradley
May 10, 2012
By Bill Ford
CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois junior Michelle Bradley made the most of the first game her dad saw her play at Charlotte West Stadium.
The Saluki left fielder hit the game-winning home run and caught a tricky fly ball for the final out of SIU’s 3-2 win over Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament quarterfinal Thursday.
“Michelle Bradley, both with her defense and her bat was really huge lift for us,” said SIU head coach Kerri Blaylock. “She was putting on a show today.”
In what was a pitchers’ duel between SIU’s Katie Bertelsen and Creighton’s Brittany Telecky throughout, the two teams went scoreless through the first three innings with Southern picking up the lone hit between the two.
The Salukis (35-19) finally opened the scoring in fourth inning as sophomore second baseman Jayna Spivey hit an infield single with the bases loaded to score pinch runner Kara Kimball. Though the bases were still loaded with no outs following Spivey’s RBI, the Salukis couldn’t’ manage any more runs in the inning.
The Bluejays (28-25-1) struck back in the sixth inning with a two-run home run by MVC Newcomer of the Year Alexis Cantu to tie the game at 2-2 with no outs. Bertelsen closed out the inning strong, however, to halt the Creighton rally at two runs.
Bradley stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth with two outs and no runners on. A .140 hitter entering the game, Bradley became the unlikely hero as she launched the game winning shot over the fence and just out of the reach of the Creighton outfielder.
Bertelsen coaxed a groundout and a strikeout to open the top of the seventh inning before giving up a triple to Bluejays left fielder Ellen Homan. Bradley came up big again on the ensuing at-bat, making a leaping catch to put out Allie Mathewson and secure the Saluki win.
“The kid has more guts and more heart and the reason she stays in the lineup a lot of the time is defensively, she’ll go get a ball,” Blaylock said.
A native of Land O’ Lakes, Fla., Bradley said the win was special for a number of reasons.
“It’s amazing. I can’t even talk him without getting emotional,” Bradley said of playing in front of her dad in Carbondale for the first time. “Creighton is always a big rivalry for us. They kicked us out my freshman year, so that is a big comeback.”
Spivey was the lone Saluki to pick up multiple hits for SIU as she finished 2-for-3 with the RBI while five other Salukis picked up hits.
“Telecky did a good job of keeping us off balance for a while. We struggled a little bit offensively, but we kept our composure,” Blaylock said.
Bertelsen picked up the win to improve to 13-11 on her freshman season. She allowed two runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
“I really think Bertie did a tremendous job today. I think she had a no-hitter through four,” Blaylock said. “I thought she set the tone for us.”
The fourth-seeded Salukis advance to face top seed Northern Iowa (38-15) at 12:05 p.m. Friday in the semifinal. The game will be streamed live on Valley Live and live stats will be available via GameTracker.
“Momentum can be huge. It can allow you to keep on rolling,” Blaylock said. “All I know is we are allowed to play tomorrow, and we are going to come out and give Northern Iowa our best shot.”