Daily Egyptian

Saluki softball splits series opening doubleheader with Missouri State

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

Saluki softball will not sweep or get swept by their opponent for the first time in Missouri Valley Conference play this season.

SIU split its doubleheader for the eighth time this season on Saturday, losing the first game and winning the second against Missouri State.

In Game One the lead change hands three times, eventually ending with a Missouri State junior second baseman Olivia Roark walk-off single to secure a 7-6 Bear victory.

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The Salukis (22-12, 6-4 MVC) had the lead early after sophomore third baseman Sydney Jones hit a solo home run. Sophomore right fielder Jessica Heese added another run in the inning on an RBI single to give SIU a 2-0 lead.

Despite the Bears (14-20, 3-6 MVC) tacking on a run in the second, the lead held until a four-run fifth inning for Missouri State that included a senior shortstop Erin Duewel two-run home run — her seventh homer on the year — to give the Bears a 5-2 lead. Duewel was a thorn in Saluki starter Brianna Jones’ (16-6, 1.96 ERA) side all game, going 3-4 with three RBIs.

However, the Salukis came back with a four-run inning of its own with sophomore second baseman Savannah Fisher’s two-RBI double, as well as RBIs on a senior shortstop Kelsey Gonzalez flyout and freshman left fielder Eyrika Brandenburg’s single.

The Dawgs’ lead was short-lived as Duewel struck again for the Bears with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning to tie the game headed into the final frame. 

SIU walked the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, but was unable to push the go-ahead run across the plate, allowing Roark to become the hero and giving MSU junior pitcher Erin Struemph her eighth win of the year (8-12, 3.84 ERA).

Jones picked up the loss in what may have been her worst outing of the year, throwing 6 1/3 innings, allowing season-highs seven runs (five earned) on 13 hits.

In Game Two the Salukis were able to hold on to an early lead in their 6-3 victory.

Struemph started the latter game of the doubleheader and did not fare as well.

SIU loaded the bases in the first inning with a Brandenburg single and walks from junior first baseman Shaye Harre and senior designated player Caylee Cook. Heese then unloaded the bases with her second grand slam of the year, SIU’s only hit with runners in scoring position in the game, to give it a 4-0 lead. 

Another run was added in the inning on a wild pitch and the Salukis had a five-run lead before the Bears had a chance to bat.

Struemph gave up six runs (five earned) on six hits in five innings.

The five runs would be all starter Savanna Dover (5-6, 3.68 ERA) needed in her fifth victory of the season.

While SIU added another run in the fifth, Dover pitched six strong innings giving up two runs and five hits. ould have trouble in the seventh.

Dover would have trouble in the seventh, though.

Two singles and two walks scored one run to cut the lead to 6-3, leaving the bases loaded with two out and the ability for one swing to give Missouri State the game. At that point Brianna came back in and got the next hitter to pop out, ending the game and getting her third save in the process.

The Salukis will try to win the series at noon Sunday in Springfield, Mo.

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3307.

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