SIU bats explode against UT-Martin

By Gus Bode

MVC showdown with Southwest Missouri State next on horizon

Last season against Tennessee-Martin, SIU was simply dominant, sweeping a doubleheader by a combined 12-1 score.

SIU head coach Kerri Blaylock said she was expecting a better match-up this year against the Skyhawks and leading up to the game talked about how improved the team was.

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There would be no repeat of the 12-1 embarrassment for UT-Martin.

This time, SIU turned the tables and outscored the Skyhawks 16-2.

The Salukis run-ruled UT-Martin 10-0 in the first game of the doubleheader Thursday in Martin, Tenn., amassing 13 hits in the game. The second game was another rout with SIU completing the sweep with a 6-2 victory.

“Lauren Roney led off the [first] game with a single, and from there on it was just we were putting pressure on and we didn’t stop,” Blaylock said. “And this was against their No. 1 pitcher that we did this.”

With the sweep, the Salukis (25-6, 5-0 Missouri Valley Conference) have now won 13-straight games and 24 of their last 28. UT-Martin’s record drops to 17-11, and they sit at 2-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference.

SIU has now outscored its opponents over the last six games 34-10.

A surprise source of power Thursday came in the form of SIU speedster Lindsey Bonnell.

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Bonnell hit her first home run as a Saluki and drove in five runs in the first game victory.

The blast is something Blaylock predicted would happen before the game.

“She’s had a really good week of batting practice, and I joked with her yesterday that you’re going to hit a bomb, and she laughed at me,” Blaylock said. “She had a not very good at-bat her first at-bat and then came back and saw a pitch she really liked and drilled it over the left center field wall.”

SIU also got home runs on the day by juniors Katie Jordan, her team-high seventh, and Kelly Creek, her third of the year. Jordan went 4-of-6 on the day with four RBIs.

SIU and UT-Martin were slated to face off at the Rebel Classic back in mid-February, but poor weather canceled the game.

The Salukis now have little time to recover from the two games against the Skyhawks as the Salukis will be traveling to Springfield, Mo., for a three-game series against MVC opponent Southwest Missouri State.

SIU will start the series with a noon doubleheader Saturday at the SMS Softball Field. The series finale will take place at noon Sunday.

The Bears (18-16, 4-4 MVC) enter the series as losers of five of their last seven games.

They have also been on the short end of the stick against SIU in recent years, losing seven of the last nine meetings. Before the recent slide against the Salukis, SMS had lost just twice in the previous 12 meetings against SIU.

Jordan said the Salukis need to come out with a little tougher mentality against SMS because even though the Salukis want to win every game, it is these conference games they really want.

And they know the Bears want the wins just as badly.

“SMS has a good team, and every time we play them, they’re tough competition,” Jordan said.

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