No. 23 Salukis sweep SMS

By Gus Bode

The weather seems to have finally caught up with the No. 23 SIU softball team – things are truly beginning to heat up, particularly for sophomore Cassidy Scoggins.

A humid 80-degree game marked the Salukis’ sweep, and series shutout, of Southwest Missouri State (14-22, 8-10 Missouri Valley) Sunday in a 3-0 blanking that also produced Scoggins’ second no-hitter of the weekend.

Scoggins’ first no-no came in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, when SIU (37-9, 15-2 MVC) shut the Bears out 7-0 and Scoggins struck out six in her complete-game performance. One walk was all that prevented Scoggins from pitching the first perfect game of her two-year collegiate career.

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Two no-hitters in one weekend – by the same pitcher, no less – is an event SIU head coach Kerri Blaylock cannot recollect ever seeing before.

“It was something else, something special,” Blaylock said. “She told me she had a friend on [SMS] who said they had her figured out.”

Scoggins and Blaylock, who calls the pitches, apparently had a little something up their sleeves.

Scoggins was automatic Sunday, striking out eight and walking no one while allowing just one runner to reach second base. Had it not been for a misplayed pop up, SMS’s Sarah Cole would not have touched first or stolen second on a Saluki error, and Scoggins would have had herself another perfect game.

Still, despite the walk and error – junior Katie Louis dropped Cole’s pop up at third – that prevented Scoggins from a pair of perfect outings, she was quite pleased with her performances.

“I was just pitching the ball really well,” Scoggins said. “Coach has been calling good pitches, and I’ve been hitting my spots. Katie told me she was so sorry, but it’s not a big deal.”

Blaylock also gave credit to the Saluki outfielders for navigating the windy conditions on a multitude of fly balls. Freshman Tiffanie Dismore pulled down three straight flies in a row between the fourth and fifth innings.

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Meanwhile, Scoggins was also directly responsible for two of the Salukis’ three runs.

Louis got things going for SIU with a one-out single and then advanced to second after a sacrifice from senior Maria Damico. Freshman Lauren Haas took a free pass to first, and Scoggins ripped a shot down the left field line to bring both home.

The Salukis scored another run to extend their lead to 3-0 in the sixth off one hit and two errors, but it was hardly needed with Scoggins on the mound.

Senior Amy Harre, returning from an injury, controlled the rubber for SIU in Saturday’s second game. Harre allowed only three hits and one walk while striking out five through six innings in the circle. It was Harre’s 77th career win, extending the school record she now has exclusively.

“I’m very, very happy that she is starting to feel better,” Blaylock said. “She feels that she’s getting better every day.”

Haas led the Salukis in Saturday’s second game, going 2-for-2 with a two-run homer.

Then there was Scoggins’ first no-hitter of the weekend in the first game of the series. While she characteristically shut down the Bears’ offense, SIU’s bats quickly sprung to life in the first inning.

Dismore led off with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice. Sophomore Lauren Roney notched a hit to drive Dismore to third, and senior Kelly Creek reached first on an error to load the bases.

A single from senior Katie Jordan drove Dismore in, and a wild pitch coupled with an SIU hit brought another Saluki home. If the Salukis had stopped there, everything still would have been fine, but they added another five runs in the fifth inning to pound the nail into the coffin with a 7-0 victory.

After the weekend, Scoggins now has three career no-hitters, all of which have come this season, 13 complete games and a career-high 16 wins. Most importantly, she helped the Salukis take three vital MVC games to place them just behind conference-leading Creighton, which plays SIU this weekend.

“I think we’re playing pretty well,” Blaylock said. “The kids’ confidence is sky-high, and that’s something great.”

Reporter Gabe House can be reached at [email protected]

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