Daily Egyptian

Softball breaks out of offensive slump in doubleheader sweep at Bradley

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

SIU softball’s offense finally woke up from a deep slumber on Saturday.

The Salukis broke out of a long offensive slump in a pair of victories against Bradley in Peoria. SIU won 6-1 and 5-3.

After averaging just more than two runs a game over its last six, the SIU (27-16, 10-8 Missouri Valley Conference) bats finally came alive tallying eight hits in the early game against Bradley (14-24, 8-9 MVC).

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In the third inning, the Salukis loaded the bases with no one out. After a strikeout and popout, it appeared the offense would let down the team again.

But a wild pitch scored the game’s first run for SIU, and junior center fielder Merri Anne Patterson followed with an RBI single to give the Dawgs a 2-0 lead. Patterson would later hit an RBI double in the fifth as well to go 2-3 on the game with two RBIs.

Another slump ended in the fifth inning as junior first baseman Shaye Harre hit a solo home run on a 3-0 pitch to right field for her 10th home run of the season. The solo shot was her first four-bagger since March 26 against Illinois State.

While the offense had come alive, freshman pitcher Brianna Jones continued her stellar freshman campaign in support.

Jones (19-9) threw a complete game, allowing five hits and just one run, lowering her MVC-best ERA to 1.92 on the year.

With the win, Jones set an SIU freshman wins record with 19, breaking the mark set by Shaye Harre’s cousin Amy Harre, in 2002.

The offensive fire did not settle in the latter game.

Harre followed her game one home run with another in the second inning of Gate Two to start the scoring for SIU. She now has 11 home runs on the year. She had 10 in her whole career before this season.

With the one run in the second, the floodgates opened with two outs in the third.

Consecutive hits by senior shortstop Kelsey Gonzalez, freshman left fielder Eyrika Brandenburg and Patterson scored one run to make it 2-0 Salukis.

After her two home runs, the Braves then wanted nothing to do with Harre. The Nashville native was intentionally walked, loading the bases for sophomore Jessica Heese, who made the Braves pay with a bases-clearing triple to push SIU’s lead to 5-0.

Harre was also intentionally walked in the fifth inning, bringing her season walk tally to 32, which is tied for the eighth-most in SIU single-season history.

Those five runs would be all starting pitcher Savanna Dover (7-7, 3.06 ERA) needed to secure her seventh victory of the season.

Dover gave up four hits and two waIlks across 4 2/3 innings, allowing the one run.

Once Dover gave up the one run, freshman Nicole Doyle came in to pitch, making her first appearance since April 3.

She worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth and pitched to one more batter in the sixth before being pulled for Jones, who finished out the game.

The Braves created some traffic in the seventh, stringing together four hits to score two runs and loading the bases with two outs, but a strikeout ended the threat and the game.

SIU will go for the series sweep at noon Sunday in Peoria.

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

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