Scoring late is the story as Softball advances to MVC Tournament Championship


Rylie Hamilton (1) cheers as she walks back into the dugout after putting the Salukis on the board for the first run of the game with her solo home run Mar. 19, 2023 at Charlotte West Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.

The Salukis (35-18) had to take their home softball diamond twice on Friday. Another game in the tournament played at Charlotte West Stadium ran late before SIU was scheduled to play the Illinois State Redbirds (30-22). It moved Southern’s quarterfinal game against ISU to the next morning due to curfew where they played as the away team in their home venue.

The pitching shined in the early portion of the game. Only one run was scored through the first four innings of action as Saluki ace Madi Eberle battled the Redbirds’ starter Hannah Ross. Eberle allowed an unearned run in the first that scored the leadoff batter who singled, and Illinois State was out to an early 1-0 lead. But she locked down afterwards, going the distance pitching all seven innings without striking a batter out. She walked three and allowed three hits but kept SIU in the game and gave the Dawgs a chance to win.

Anna Carder had the lone hit for the Salukis off Ross after four innings, but Southern’s bats came alive in the fifth. Elizabeth Warwick singled back up the box to lead off the frame and then moved up to second on a wild base. Jackie Lis singled her to third and then a walk to Rylie Hamilton loaded the bases with no outs. The Dawgs’ rally seemed to be all for naught after two pop outs on the infield, but Addi Baker came through with a pinch-hit, two-run single to put SIU ahead 2-1.


Southern added insurance in the top of the seventh as Lis began things with a leadoff single. Carder’s single two batters later pushed Lis to runners and set up runners at the corners with one down. Sidney Jones singled to score the third Saluki run and then Emma Austin’s single plated the fourth. Jones came around to score on a wild pitch that gave the Dawgs a 5-1 lead and they won by that score.

Their semifinal game against the Belmont Bruins (29-24) hours later was even more exciting. Eberle took the mound again and tossed two shutout innings before running into trouble in the third. The Bruins hit a double and a single to set runners up at first and third with one down. The batter who singled then stole second base which put her into scoring position.

It led to a two-run single from the following batter that broke the scoreless tie. Eberle escaped the frame when the runner was doubled off on a flyout, but the Salukis had to come back once more to keep their season alive. She was relieved by Hannah Hockerman after giving SIU three innings and allowing two runs, four hits, and striking out a batter.

The game remained at a 2-0 Belmont lead until the bottom of the fifth. Austin’s one out single sparked the rally and a walk later in the frame put runners at first and second with two outs for Southern.

Warwick then came up to the plate and had the first of her two clutch at-bats. She roped a single to center that would’ve scored just one if the centerfielder didn’t bobble, causing the second runner to score and tie the game at 2 for the Dawgs. An error from the catcher on a batted ball by Lis allowed Warwick to then score the go-ahead run.

Hockerman was fantastic out of the bullpen, giving SIU three dominant scoreless innings, only allowing a single hit, striking out two and walking two. The Salukis opted to give Eberle the ball back to close out Belmont in the top of the seventh and advance in the tournament. But a leadoff double wound up scoring on a costly error later in the inning that evened things back up at 3. Eberle got out of it, but the Dawgs had to win via walkoff in order to play another day.

Warwick did just that, leading off the bottom of the seventh by launching a ball over the wall in right-center to win the game 4-3 and send the Salukis to the MVC Tournament Championship. It was her second walkoff-hit in the last two weeks after her base knock walked off Murray State on Senior Day. Eberle got a pair of wins on Friday moving her record on the season to 18-8.


It sets up for a matchup against the Indiana State Sycamores (32-24) after they took down the red-hot No. 1 seed Northern Iowa Panthers (39-12) who rattled off 18 wins in a row before falling to the Sycamores 1-0 on Friday. They’ve been the only team in the conference to take down UNI and now will face off against No. 5 SIU at 1 pm on Saturday afternoon at Charlotte West Stadium to decide the conference champion.

Sports reporter Howard Woodard can be reached at [email protected].

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