Daily Egyptian

SIU softball finishes Bradley sweep in Peoria

By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

The Saluki softball offense picked up where it left off Saturday.

SIU won a Missouri Valley Conference series on the road for the second time this season — this one in a sweep after defeating Bradley in Peoria, 6-3.

“It’s nice to just get back to playing well again,” coach Kerri Blaylock said. “We feel if we just keep playing well, the W’s will take care of themselves.”

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The Dawgs registered a season-high 13 hits Sunday, picking up contributions throughout the lineup.

Bradley (14-25, 8-10 MVC) used four different pitchers in the game and SIU (28-16, 11-8 MVC) had success against each of them as five different batters got multiple hits and seven reached base.

SIU garnered a lead early, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning on one hit. Four different Salukis got a walk and junior catcher Jessa Thomas was hit by a pitch to help the cause.

“It was just a sloppy long game,” Blaylock said. “There wasn’t a lot of flow or rhythm to the game with how many walks there were.”

Braves freshman starter Julie Kestas (4-12, 6.73 ERA) took the loss, throwing 2/3 of an inning and allowing the three runs in the first.

The one hit was an RBI single by sophomore third baseman Sydney Jones, who rebounded from an 0-6 day Saturday by going 3-4 with two RBIs Sunday.

“She did a great job,” Blaylock said. “She jumped on pitches early, hit the ball hard and was finally able to find holes with it.”

Jones was just part of a 5-6-7 string in the batting order that was on fire Sunday. The trio of freshman outfielder Hanna Porter, Jones and Thomas combined to go 7-10 on the day with four RBIs.

The top of the order was solid as well, as senior shortstop Kelsey Gonzalez and freshman left fielder Eyrika Brandenburg combined to go 5-8 against the Braves’ pitchers.

“Eyrika played really well today,” Blaylock said. “She and Merri Anne made excellent plays in the field that saved us from some trouble.”

Six runs would be more than enough for Saluki freshman starter Brianna Jones (20-9, 1.91 ERA), who extended her own SIU freshman record, picking up her 20th win this season. Jones joined former Salukis Danielle Glosson, Amy Harre, Lisa Peterson, Erin Stremsterfer, Jaime Schuttek and Cassidy Scroggins as the only pitchers in SIU history to win 20 games.

Jones threw another complete game Sunday, surrendering six hits and striking out three to push her total to 132 strikeouts on the year.

SIU will be back in action 5 p.m. Wednesday to battle Evansville on the road, hoping to avenge a doubleheader loss Tuesday to the Purple Aces in Carbondale.

“It’s a new game and you just have to try to play well,” Blaylock said. “Hopefully we continue what we got going right now when we head out there.”

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

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