Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Grammy-worthy talent coming to 45th Sunset Concert Series beginning June 13
Grammy-worthy talent coming to 45th Sunset Concert Series beginning June 13
By Christi Mathis, SIU Communications • May 21, 2024

It’s the 45th season for one of Southern Illinois’ favorite summer traditions – the Sunset Concert Series – and this year’s exciting...

Saluki softball huddles together before facing the California Golden Bears in the first round of the NCAA Regional May 17, 2024 at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo provided by Saluki Athletics
Salukis split doubleheader, advance to first Regional final since 2003
By Ryan Grieser, Sports Reporter • May 18, 2024

The SIU softball team is headed to its second-ever NCAA Regional final after beating California in back-to-back days in the Baton Rouge Regional...

Saluki softball huddles together before facing the California Golden Bears in the first round of the NCAA Regional May 17, 2024 at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo provided by Saluki Athletics
Groff twins, defense send SIU to NCAA regional semifinals
By Ryan Grieser, Sports Reporter • May 17, 2024

Defense was the name of the game Friday as the SIU softball team took down the Cal Bears in the first round of NCAA Regionals in Baton Rouge,...

Saluki softball repeats as MVC tournament champs with three straight comeback wins

Saluki+softball+celebrates+with+both+the+regular+season+champions+and+Missouri+Valley+Conference+champions+trophies+after+clinching+a+win+over+Northern+Iowa+in+the+championship+May+11%2C+2024+in+Normal%2C+Illinois.+The+dawgs+earned+their+automatic+bid+to+the+NCAA+tournament+for+the+second+year+in+a+row.+Photo+courtesy+of+Saluki+Athletics
Saluki Athletics
Saluki softball celebrates with both the regular season champions and Missouri Valley Conference champions trophies after clinching a win over Northern Iowa in the championship May 11, 2024 in Normal, Illinois. The dawgs earned their automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. Photo courtesy of Saluki Athletics

Though the SIU softball team was down in every game, the Salukis simply couldn’t be stopped on their run to a second consecutive MVC Tournament title, and third in four years.

The championship, which the Salukis clinched with a 3-2 triumph over second-seeded Northern Iowa, guaranteed the Dawgs their fifteenth program appearance in the NCAA tournament, where they will take on California in the Baton Rouge Regional beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.

Elizabeth Warwick was the hero of the weekend for the Dawgs, with walk-off hits on Thursday and Friday to send the team to the championship game. Warwick earned tournament MVP honors for her performance.

Advertisement

It didn’t look like the top-seeded Salukis would make it past Thursday and their first-round matchup with Murray State. Though they managed to collect seven hits and didn’t strike out a single time, the Dawgs were held scoreless until the fifth inning, when Warwick singled to left field to drive in Emma Austin to tie the game at 1-1.

Freshman phenom Maddia Groff showed no jitters in her postseason debut, pitching nine innings and giving up only one run on five hits while striking out 14 Racers. While the Salukis searched for a clutch hit, Groff kept the Dawgs in the game spilled into bonus frames.

Both teams went scoreless into extra innings, and Groff held the Racers scoreless in the top of the ninth inning, setting the stage for the first of Warwick’s heroics: a two-out double to drive in regular season MVP Jackie Lis for a walk-off win.

Friday’s game against the Redbirds featured more scoring offense from the Salukis. The Dawgs had six hits, led by Austin, who had two, while Rylie Hamilton also collected one.

Groff had another strong performance in Friday’s start against Illinois State, pitching 5.1 innings and giving up only six hits and two runs.

Madi Eberle pitched the final five outs for the Dawgs, allowing only one hit while keeping the Redbirds off the board, giving the Salukis a chance with the bats down 2-0 in the bottom half of the seventh.

Erin Lee and Anna Carder led off the inning with a walk and a base hit, putting the tying run on base. ISU hit Lis with a pitch, loading the bases for Warwick with another chance to be the hero.

Advertisement*

Once again, the game ended off the bat of Warwick. This time, she sent a 2-0 ball over the fence for a walk-off grand slam, clinching a spot in the title game. The ending echoed last season’s Valley semifinal, which also ended in a Warwick walk-off home run.

Groff was given the ball to start Saturday’s championship game against UNI, but the Panthers were hot to start the game. The Panthers hit back-to-back home runs off the Saluki ace in the first inning.

Having played from behind in the first two games, the Salukis remained composed as Eberle came in from the bullpen. The former tournament MVP dominated the rest of the game, throwing 112 pitches in 5.2 shutout inning while giving up only two hits.

Sidney Jones led off the bottom of the second with a double, and advanced to third off Austin’s sacrifice bunt. Bailey Caylor brought Jones home with an RBI single to open the scoring for SIU, which continued with a solo home run from Hamilton in the bottom of the third.

Lis scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth off a double from Jones, and it proved to be enough for the Dawgs to prevail. A pop fly to Austin would be the final out as the Salukis stormed the field to celebrate repeating as MVC tournament champions.

After the on-field celebration and trophy presentation, Groff, Eberle, Hamilton and Warwick were all named to the MVC All-Tournament Team.

The Salukis clinched an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, where they will take part in the Baton Rouge Regional hosted by LSU. Their first matchup in the double-elimination bracket pits the Dawgs (42-9) against California (36-17) on Friday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN+.

Sports reporter Ryan Grieser can be reached at [email protected]. To stay up to date on all your southern Illinois news, be sure to follow The Daily Egyptian on Facebook and on X @dailyegyptian.

Advertisement

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Daily Egyptian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *