SIU steals series sweep from Bradley

By Terrance Peacock

The SIU softball team gained ground in the Missouri Valley Conference standings with its three-game sweep of Bradley at Charlotte West Stadium.

Weather was a factor in the Salukis’ (24-25, 12-10 MVC) weekend series as the teams rescheduled game two of Saturday’s doubleheader because of wet field conditions. The teams played a Sunday doubleheader to complete the three-game series.

The Salukis tied a season-high with four errors during Saturday’s game, but they held on to beat the Braves 4-3 on senior day. The Salukis now stand fifth in the conference.

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SIU took a 4-1 lead into the seventh inning before the Braves scored twice and loaded the bases with one out on sophomore pitcher Alyssa Wunderlich, who entered the contest to relief pitch. However, Wunderlich worked out of the jam and recorded the final two outs to pick up her first save of the season.

Senior pitcher Brittney Lang (12- 14) nabbed the win after allowing two earned runs on six hits with six strikeouts and one walk in six innings. Wunderlich struck out two and allowed one walk and one hit in the final inning.

SIU used key pitching to beat Bradley 6-5 in game one of Sunday’s doubleheader as the Salukis off a furious seventh-inning Braves rally to preserve the win.

“It all starts in the circle,” coach Kerri Blaylock said. “I thought we had two pretty solid pitching performances. Then we got some relief. That helped out a lot.”

Wunderlich picked up her eighth win of the season after she allowed five runs on 12 hits with four strikeouts in sic innings. Sophomore pitcher Katie Bertelsen replaced Wunderlich in the seventh inning and recorded the last three Saluki outs to pick up her fourth save of the season.

Clutch seventh-inning at-bats lifted the Salukis to a 3-2 comeback win in Sunday’s series finale to cap off the series sweep.

Trailing 2-1 and down to their final at-bat, junior outfielder Michelle Glenn hit a blooper to right-center field for a double. She then scored from second base on an infield single by senior outfielder Morgan Barchan to tie the game at two runs.

In the following at-bat, Barchan stole second, took third on a throwing error by Bradley’s catcher and scored the winning run on another throwing error by the Bradley’s center fielder.

“Michelle and Morgan’s base running was the key to that last inning, no doubt,” Blaylock said. “It’s all about being aggressive and hustling. That’s what creates a lot of havoc.”

Barchan and Glenn will be key run-producers for SIU as the Salukis prepare to make a run for the approaching conference championship.

Barchan leads the MVC in hits with 60 and stands fourth in the conference with 42 runs scored and a .364 batting average.

The senior lead-off hitter has been the catalyst for most Saluki rallies and will need to continue to be if the Salukis want to make a run for the MVC crown.

Glenn has seen action in 42 out of the Salukis’ 49 games this season but mainly as a pinch-runner. Glenn has started nine games this season, but she has been thrust into the starting lineup because of sophomore outfielder Kalyn Harker’s wrist injury suffered by before an April 23 matchup against Evansville.

Before her injury, Harker led the Salukis in nearly every offensive category during conference play, and Glenn will be needed to fill a void left in Harker’s absence.

Blaylock said she stresses the importance of pitching for her team’s success, and the loss of Bertelsen in the season’s first half because of an injury played a huge role in the Salukis’ slow start.

Last season, Bertelsen made a team-high 22 starts and 39 appearances for the Salukis and led the team in both wins and saves with 13 and five, respectively.

This season, Bertelsen has been hampered with a leg injury but has started to show the signs of last year’s impressive play.

“She’s getting more comfortable the more innings she throws,” Blaylock said. “I think she’s getting stronger. I think she’s throwing harder and I think every game that she plays she’s getting more confidence.”

With one week left in the regular season, SIU looks to avoid a sub .500 record for the first time under coach Kerri Blaylock, who is in her 14th season as head coach.

The Salukis will play their final home game of the season Wednesday in a non-conference matchup against Illinois before traveling to Indiana State on Saturday and Sunday in a weekend conference series to wrap up the regular season.

 

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