The Salukis started their 2013 season in Fla. with wins in three out of their first four games, but ended on a low note over the weekend at the Dot Richardson Invitational.
A strong pitching performance by senior Brittney Lang propelled the co-Missouri Valley Conference champions to a 6-3 win against University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, their first win of the season.
Chattanooga led first, scoring one run in the second inning and adding another in the third to take an early two-run lead over the Salukis. Lang then settled in on the mound to strike out five batters. Key hits by freshman infielder Kelsey Gonzalez and senior outfielder Morgan Barchan in the fifth inning led to two runs to tie the game, and a key late-inning double by sophomore outfielder Kalyn Harker preserved the win.
Southern Illinois met Virginia Tech for the first time Friday during the opening day of the Dot Richardson Invite and lost to the Hokies, 4-2.
Virginia Tech took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning and recorded three more runs in the third to take a 4-0 lead over the Salukis. SIU struggled at the plate for most of the game and didn’t record their first run until the fifth inning. SIU loaded the bases in the final inning but was only able to bring in one run.
On the second day of play for SIU, the Salukis hit a grand slam and recorded a triple play to beat Fordham University 4-0.
The Salukis got off to a slow start on offense with just three hits in the first five innings of play.
Coach Kerri Blaylock said the team started sluggish, but improved as the game progressed.
“I don’t think we come out great on offense but as the game went along we got more settled in and I am really proud of how we kept our composure and played with a lot of confidence,” Blaylock said.
With the bases loaded in the sixth inning, sophomore outfielder Meredith Wilson hit a shot over the center field fence for a grand slam to put the Salukis up four late in the game.
“I thought we had some really good at bat’s in the sixth inning before we broke it open,” Blaylock said. “Coming up with a triple play, obviously, is really good.”
On the final day of the Dot Richardson Invitational, SIU faced LIU Brooklyn and concluded the tournament with a rematch against Virginia Tech.
The Salukis scored two runs in the second inning off of LIU Brooklyn errors to provide an early inning spark for the team.
Sophomore pitcher Alyssa Wunderlich pitched five scoreless innings to seal a 4-2 Saluki win.
“I thought Alyssa Wunderlich did a good job through six and Brittney Lang did a good job coming in for the save,” Blaylock said. “Overall, I was pleased with the kids.”
The Salukis failed to bounce back from Friday’s defeat to Virginia Tech, losing to the Hokies 9-0 Sunday to conclude the Dot Richardson Invite.
“We played four really good games this weekend and we just didn’t have a good final game,” Blaylock said.
Virginia Tech pitcher Katie Heinz made her collegiate debut for the Hokies and threw a no-hitter.
“Their pitcher did a tremendous job and we didn’t make an adjustment. We just got flat and struggled,” Blaylock said.
Lang was the losing pitcher and gave up nine runs and 11 hits. The Salukis also made four errors in the game on defense.
The Salukis finished the weekend with a 3-2 record and will travel to Ft. Myers, Fla. next weekend to play in the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament.