Saluki softball sweeps day one of USF UnderArmour Invitational

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Saluki softball sweeps day one of USF UnderArmour Invitational

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

SIU softball swept a doubleheader for the second time in eight attempts this season after beating North Florida and Iona on Friday.

Freshman pitcher Brianna Jones (9-2, 1.60 ERA) picked up her sixth complete game shutout against North Florida and the win against Iona in a relief appearance.

A fast start from the Salukis is all Jones needed to cruise to victory as SIU (10-7) picked up a 4-0 win against North Florida (9-14) in the first game of the day.

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The Dawgs scored three runs on three hits and one walk in the first as the 4-5-6 batters each drove in a run.

“It was huge getting on a kid that was really their ace,” coach Kerri Blaylock said. “I was really proud of the kids for that.”

UNF’s starting pitcher, junior Logan Green (4-7), picked up the loss and was pulled after 0.2 innings after allowing three runs on two hits and one walk in five batters faced.

She was replaced by senior pitcher Janet Snipe, who finished the game with one run allowed on six hits and two strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched. 

Jones allowed a leadoff single to senior right fielder Shelby Duncan to start the fourth, but the defense turned its second double play of the season, 4-6-3, and Jones struck out freshman third baseman Jenna Brownell to escape without a run allowed.

SIU added its fourth and final run in the bottom of the inning when junior catcher Jessa Thomas laid down a sacrifice bunt to score senior pinch-runner Taylor Harris, who ran for senior designated player Caylee Cook after she singled.

Blaylock said running is Harris’ specialty.

“She does a great job … she gets a good jump and that’s a way she can help the team,” she said.

Jones sat down 11 of the final 14 batters in the game and finished with four hits allowed and five strikeouts in seven innings of work. She now has 60 strikeouts this season in as many innings of work.

“I didn’t have my best game,” she said. “I wasn’t throwing as hard as I could, but they were hacking at everything and barely getting a bat on the ball.”

The second game wasn’t so easy for the Salukis as a pitcher’s duel wound up in a 2-1 SIU win against Iona. The teams combined for 12 hits and 18 runners left on base.

Blaylock said game was a huge momentum win for the team.

Freshman left fielder Eryika Brandenburg returned to lead off the bottom of the seventh, tied 1-1, after Cook batted for her in the third and fifth innings. Cook had a sacrifice bunt and a single in her plate appearances.

“[Brandenburg] didn’t execute on a couple of things, so I took her out of the game,” Blaylock said. “I said, ‘Hey, lets step up,’ and she did a great job getting on [in the seventh].”

Brandenburg singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt before junior first baseman Shaye Harre drove her in with walk-off double.

Harre said she was waiting on a fast pitch.

“The pitcher was a changeup pitcher, and the at-bat before I was on the changeup, so that at-bat, I was trying to be on the hard stuff,” she said.

SIU sophomore pitcher Savanna Dover, who picked up a no decision, allowed the Gaels’ first run of the game with two outs in the fifth.

Dover (2-5, 4.86 ERA) wrung up batter No. 43 of the year in the third inning, surpassing her total from last season. She had 42 strikeouts in 64.2 innings last year and now has 46 in 49 innings this season.

She finished the game with one earned run on six hits, three walks and one hit batter while fanning eight in 5.2 innings.

“She threw extremely well … she actually deserved a win, she threw that well,” Blaylock said.

Her counterpart — senior starting pitcher Christine Costello (0-2) — struck out four while walking six and allowing four hits before sophomore outfielder Jessica Heese scored on a wild pitch to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth.

Blaylock said she didn’t expect a pitching duel in the game.

Iona scratched out a run in the top of the fifth with back-to-back two-out hits from freshman outfielder Marisa Gergel and junior first baseman Kristen Turner.

Jones came out in relief of Dover and picked up the win allowing no runs on no hits in four batters faced.

“I knew Dover was doing good against them and if we switched it up a little, they would be thrown off,” she said. “They didn’t hit [Dover] hard, so I knew if I went out and threw hard, they wouldn’t hit me hard either.”

The Salukis have two more games tomorrow, beginning at 10:30 a.m. against Hartford.

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or 536-3333

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