Daily Egyptian

SIU softball takes final series of season, finish No. 5 in MVC

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

It was a busy weekend for the Saluki softball team, who celebrated senior day, played the annual Black Out Cancer game and hosted a “Be The Match” promotion. 

Through it all, SIU came away with two wins on Saturday. 

The Salukis won game one 5-4 with the difference maker from senior right fielder Meredith Wilson’s 3-run, 2-out home run in the bottom of the third, giving the Salukis a 5-2 lead. 

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Wilson said she was not trying for the home run but on senior day, it was a nice surprise. 

“Best case scenario,” she said. “I was trying to hit the ball hard and I’m glad we could get it done.” 

The Bears started the scoring in the first inning when sophomore first baseman Mary Stephens hit a leadoff home run well past the left-center-field wall. Freshman center fielder Erika Zimmer followed with a double later scored on senior right fielder Chelsea Jones’s double two batters later. 

SIU answered back with a run in the bottom of the first on back-to-back doubles from senior center fielder Kalyn Harker and sophomore first baseman Shaye Harre. 

After Wilson’s home run in the third, Missouri State scratched out 2 more runs, but could not catch the Dawgs. 

Senior pitcher Katie Bertelsen won her 13th game, which tied the Missouri Valley Conference lead. 

Bertelsen finished with 4 earned runs on 7 hits, 4 strikeouts and 3 walks. 

In game two, the Salukis struck early and got out to a 4-0 lead through 2 innings en route to a 10-2, 5-inning victory. 

Missouri State answered back with 2 runs of its own in the third inning but that was all it would manage.

SIU tacked on 4 more runs in the fourth with a 2-out, bases clearing double from sophomore Brook Womack to extend the lead to 8-2. 

Harre came up in the fifth with the chance to run-rule the Bears and earn the pitching victory. She did so by singling in junior shortstop Kelsey Gonzalez, who walked earlier in the inning. 

In Sunday’s 4-1 loss, the long ball elevated the Bears to a win. 

Bertelsen was back in the circle for Sunday’s game and had to work out of a first inning jam. The Bears singled twice, drew 2 walks and left two runners on base, but not before senior left fielder Rebecca McPherson sacrificed Stephens in. 

In the bottom half of the inning, Harker singled to extend her hit streak to 12 games and collected her 44th career stolen base — and the third of the weekend — to move to No. 8 all-time at SIU. 

Gonzalez collected a single in the third to extend her reached base streak to 17 games, which is the best for the Salukis this season. 

Harre tied the game in the fourth with a leadoff home run, her fifth of the year, to left-center field. 

The Bears answered back in the top of the sixth with a 2-run home run from junior shortstop Erin Duewel, who was previously hitless in the series. However, she entered the game with a .404 batting average in 23 MVC games. 

Bertelsen (17-15) was pulled after 6 1/3 innings of work, finishing with 4 runs, 3 earned, on 10 hits, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts. 

Relief pitcher freshman Savanna Dover allowed a single to load the bases before Duewel grounded out, scoring another run to extend the lead to 4-1. 

Sophomore pitcher Erin Struemph (14-11) finished the game with the win for MSU. She allowed 1 earned run on 6 hits, 10 strikeouts and 2 walks. 

Blaylock said she was happy with the weekend since her goal was to win two of the three games. 

“I thought the kids did a great job all weekend,” she said. “Struemph is one of the best pitchers in the league and she got us today.” 

The Salukis, No. 5, travel to Wichita, Kan. for the MVC Tournament and will face Indiana State, No. 8, at 11:04 a.m. Thursday at C. Howard Wilkins Softball Complex. 

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269. 

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