Softball: Salukis smash Panthers

By Gus Bode

The SIU softball team turned its three-game series against Northern Iowa into batting practice over the weekend.

The No. 20 Salukis were relentless on offense, scoring 34 runs with 46 hits and eight home runs to sweep the Panthers in three games. SIU (36-9, 15-3) extended its winning streak against the Panthers to 19 games.

SIU coach Kerri Blaylock said she could tell the team was going to have a big weekend.

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“From the very first pitch we were very focused and came ready to play and you could tell that,” Blaylock said. “Literally all of our starters had at least one hit in both games and that says a lot.”

SIU had to battle to secure the sweep, winning 10-5 in nine innings Sunday. The Salukis looked like they were on the path to another easy victory when junior first baseman Lauren Hass hit a two-run homer in the first inning, but the Salukis would not score again until the ninth.

The Panthers (18-27, 4-12) tied the game after hitting a home run in the sixth from Whitney Link and then an RBI single in seventh from Jen Larsen.

The score was 2-2 in the ninth when the Salukis exploded. Freshman second baseman Alicia Garza and sophomore catcher Jayme Wamsley each knocked in a pair of runs and freshman outfielder Katie Wilson smashed a three-run homer.

SIU had a scare in the bottom of the ninth when senior pitcher Cassidy Scoggins gave up a three-run homer, but Scoggins was able to get three of the next four batters out to secure the victory.

Scoggins struck out 10 on the day, putting her eighth all-time at SIU with 181 strikeouts. Scoggins also pitched in the first game and had seven strikeouts while giving up three hits and one run in five innings.

Blaylock said she was impressed with Scoggins being able to handle such a good offense twice.

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“They’re too good of a hitting team to give them that many chances,” Blaylock said. “There was a lot of conditions she had to go through but Cassidy hung in there very well and I was proud of her.”

The Salukis set the tone for the rest of the series when they won the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader 14-1 in five innings. The 14 runs were a season best for SIU.

Saluki junior left fielder Tiffanie Dismore hit a triple on the very first pitch thrown, which junior shortstop Becky Wegmann followed with an RBI single on the first pitch she saw. Wamsley hit a three-run homer to cap off the first inning with four runs on six hits.

The Salukis kept pounding in the third inning with a lead off home run from Wilson. Wegmann came through with another RBI on a double up the middle to help contribute to a three-run inning.

SIU put the game out of reach in the fourth when Wilson hit her second home run of the game and Wegmann followed with a three-run homer of her own. Wilson’s three home runs for the series moved her to third all time at SIU with 13 home runs in a season. Wegmann’s home run was part of a game in which she went 4-for-4 with five RBIs.

The Salukis picked up right where they left off winning in the second game 10-2 in five innings.

SIU again scored in the top of the first when senior catcher Amanda Clifton hit an RBI single to score Wamsley. The Salukis opened up the game in the second when Wamsley and Dismore each had an RBI to extend the lead to 4-0.

Wegmann added two more RBIs on the day when she singled in Dismore and Wilson during the third. Wamsley knocked in the final two runs of the game in the fifth when she hit her second home run of the day. The home run puts Wamsley sixth all time at SIU for home runs in a season with 10.

The defense for the Salukis was also back to form as they committed only two errors in the three games. Sophomore third baseman Katie Wagner said she felt the defense would get back to normal.

“We’re playing so many games in so many different fields that it’s hard to get a feel for every one of them,” Wagner said. “But errors happen, it’s softball, you can’t be perfect all the time, but we will be fine.”

The Salukis also got a solid pitching performance from Ashley Hamby, who logged seven strikeouts in the second game. She gave up three hits and two runs in five innings.

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