Softball swings, misses at Gulf Coast tourney

The Saluki softball team struggled mightily over the weekend, losing four out of five games, including a 10-1 loss to top ranked Alabama at the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament.

The Salukis (4-6) were impressive in their first season tournament as they took three out of five games between Friday and Sunday, but the team scored more than one run only twice during its weekend bout in Ft. Myers, Fla.

Bats came alive Friday during the SIU’s first game of the tournament as they scored nine runs, but pitching woes doomed the Salukis as they allowed 10 runs in an extra-innings loss to Appalachian State.

All fingers pointed to a Saluki win early in the game as SIU erupted for seven runs to lead the Mountaineers 7-1 after the top the third inning, but Appalachian State rallied in the bottom half to score four runs to pull within two runs of the Saluki lead.

Sophomore pitcher Alyssa Wunderlich replaced starting pitcher senior Brittney Lang, but she provided little relief as the Mountaineers collected another run in the fourth inning to trail only by one run.

Sixth-inning singles from junior infielders Taylor Orsburn and Jayna Spivey gave the Salukis their final two runs to lead the game 9-6, but a late-inning surge by Appalachian State knotted the game 9-9 to send the game into extra innings. The Salukis failed to score in the top half of the eighth inning, and the Mountaineers brought in one run in the bottom of the inning to end the game and defeat SIU.

“We did not throw well at all and just could not settle down,” Coach Kerri Blaylock said. “Defensively, I thought we played a good game. There were just too many walks.”

The Salukis’ hot bats cooled down in their second game as they lost 1-0 to Georgia Southern.

Wunderlich allowed one run in seven innings, but SIU struggled offensively as Sarah Purvis, the 2013 Southern Conference preseason Pitcher of the Year, recorded 11 strikeouts to earn the Eagles’ perfect game. This was the second perfect game thrown against the Salukis so far this season.

“Alyssa Wunderlich threw a great game, but the Georgia Southern pitcher really threw like the preseason Pitcher of the Year would,” Blaylock said. “She kept us off balance.”

The Salukis split the second day of the FGCU Tournament with a dominating 10-1 revenge win over Georgia Southern and a 6-0 fall to Florida Gulf Coast.

The Eagles (5-3) scored in the first inning to record their only run of the game thanks to Lang’s stellar performance in the circle. Lang pitched a complete game and gave up only one run and one walk.

Spivey led the Salukis offensively going 4-4 at the plate.

The Salukis failed to hit again in the nightcap, as they were held scoreless for a second time in the tournament.

Wunderlich struggled this time around in the circle as she pitched only three innings and giving up five runs on six hits.

However, the Salukis’ toughest matchup came as they faced No. 1 Alabama on the final day of the FGCU Tournament, when the Crimson Tide used three multiple-run innings to beat the Salukis 10-1 and claim the tournament title.

Alabama went 5-0 on the tournament and remains undefeated as the team boasts a 10-0 record. The 2012 NCAA National Champions have not lost a tournament since the 2011 College World Series.

Lang picked up the loss allowing 10 runs on 12 hits, which brings her season record to 3-3.

“We need to regroup and understand that it is a very long season,” Blaylock said. “I feel like we should be able to right the ship. We want to have a good week of practice and come out next weekend and play well.

The Salukis will look to bounce back from at the tournament at the NFCA Leadoff Classic Friday in Clearwater, Fla.

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About Terrance Peacock

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