Tale of two teams

By Gus Bode

Tale of two teams

Salukis dominate Drake, then lose close game

The scoreboard in right field at Charlotte West Stadium-Rochman Field was just sitting there minding its own business when quicker than an Amy Harre heater, the ball jumped off the bat of SIU sophomore Kelly Creek and soared through the air.

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The ball bounced off the scoreboard’s bruised face and fell harmlessly to the field as Creek and the two Saluki base runners ran the bases and came home to give SIU its winning margin of 12-1.

But the euphoria of the slaughter rule victory was short lived as the Bulldogs bounced back to take the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader 2-1. Sunday’s series finale was canceled due to rain.

SIU head coach Kerri Blaylock just kind of shrugged when asked her thoughts on how the day shaped up for her 22-6 softball team.

“Best and worst I guess,” Blaylock said.

The Salukis managed seven hits in each of the games, but were able to score just one run in the second contest after the first was called early due to the eight-run rule.

Sophomore outfielder Maria Damico said it is discouraging to her and her teammates to score just the one run on the same number of hits. She said it is made more so because they don’t have any answers as to why it happened that way.

“It’s frustrating because you don’t know why that is,” Damico said.

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One of the most obvious reasons why is that three of SIU’s hits in the first game were home runs with Damico hitting her first of the year and Creek crushing two to raise her season total to seven. The Salukis scored a total of eight runs via the long ball as Damico’s was also a three-run shot and Creek’s other blast scored two.

Damico said the home runs in the first game served a greater purpose than simply adding runs to the score.

“I think it definitely changes the flow of the game anytime you get a home run because it pumps everybody up and it gets the other team thinking, ‘oh my gosh, here we go,'” Damico said.

In the first game the Salukis were also helped by numerous Drake errors. In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Bulldogs posted three errors which led to six runs for SIU. As a result of the monster innings, after Harre retired the side in the top of the fifth the game was called due to the eight-run rule.

Harre was her usual dominating self allowing just four hits and one unearned run in seven innings of work this weekend while striking out 10 Drake hitters.

She said entering the fifth inning with an 11-run cushion was something that she thinks the Salukis can make a habit of doing.

“I know our team’s capable of scoring runs like that and beating teams like that,” Harre said. “We should beat teams like that.”

Besides the big hits and solid pitching, something else that helped energize the Salukis this weekend was the play of freshman speedster Samantha Carter.

Carter was a sparkplug for the Salukis, going 4-of-7 from the plate and using her speed to beat out throws on bunts and score the lone SIU run in the loss on a passed ball.

Her hustle was not enough in the second game as Drake (17-18) rebounded well from the opening blowout to hand SIU a costly loss.

Blaylock said the Bulldogs simply came out quickly and showed no ill effects from the first game.

“What they did they set the tone early,” Blaylock said. “Their pitcher pitches a style where she’s going to keep you off-balance and try to jam you and get the batter to hit little dribblers. We kind of played into her hands a little bit.”

Harre said the Bulldogs simply showed why the Missouri Valley Conference is such a tough conference because any team can beat anybody as evidenced by 9-21 Bradley beating 19-16 Illinois State this weekend.

“Any team is going to come out any given day and beat anybody so we just got to make sure that we go in and just approach every game the same and hopefully we’ll get the good end of the results.”

Reporter Jens Deju can be reached at [email protected]

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