Salukis drop final home game

By Terrance Peacock

Terrance Peacock

Daily Egyptian

The Saluki softball team fell to in-state rival Illinois in an extra-innings affair during its last home game of the season at Charlotte West Stadium Wednesday.

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Patient at-bats led to the Salukis’ first run in the top of the first inning. SIU drew three walks off of Illinois senior pitcher Pepper Gay, including a two-out bases-loaded walk by sophomore outfielder Meredith Wilson.

The Fighting Illini (20-25) responded with two runs in the top of the second inning to take a 2-1 lead.

Effective base running was key to the Illini’s first run including a second base steal by Illini freshman infielder Allie Bauch, which allowed senior infielder Jessica Davis to score from third base. A sacrifice fly from sophomore infielder Jami Schkade scored Bauch from third to take the 2-1 lead.

The Salukis  (24-26) came back with a run in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at 2-2. Junior infielder Kelsea Ashton came to the plate with a runner on second base and hit a shot to left center field for an RBI single.

Both teams were locked in a pitching duel for the next five innings as the teams went scoreless through the seventh and headed into extras.

Illinois then scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning to preserve the 4-2 win.

Illini freshman outfielder Kylie Johnson hit a groundball to junior infielder Jayna Spivey with bases loaded. Spivey missed tagging the runner who was headed for second, the runner to score from third and take the one-run lead. A sacrifice fly from Illini sophomore outfielder Brittany Sanchez’s sacrifice fly then gave U of I a two-run lead.

The Salukis failed to score in the bottom of the eighth inning to record the loss.

Senior pitcher Brittney Lang (12-15) picked up the loss. The senior pitched seven innings and gave up eight hits, four runs and struck out six Illinois batters.

No Saluki player posted more than one hit.

Junior infielder Taylor Orsburn extended her hitting streak to 12 games in the Saluki loss. The junior said Wednesday’s loss was a hard game to bear in the Salukis’ roller coaster season.

“We’re taking it hard because we really wanted to win that game,” she said. “All we have to do is keep on trying to fight back and just keep on playing our game.”

Senior outfielder Michelle Bradley played in her final home game as a Saluki after SIU’s loss against the Fighting Illini.

Bradley said she wishes her final home game could have ended differently.

“Words can’t describe what it feels like to lose your last game, especially at home when all of your fans are here,” she said. “We can’t dwell on it obviously, and we have to move forward.”

The Salukis will conclude their regular season Saturday and Sunday against Indiana State in their final conference series of the season.

Terrance Peacock can be reached at [email protected] or 536-3311 ext. 269.

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