Daily Egyptian

Salukis sweep Braves; start MVC play 3-0

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

SIU softball swept conference foe Bradley in its home-opening series and is the only undefeated team in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Both games Sunday featured a last at-bat victory from the Salukis, making it five times the Salukis have done so this season. Monday, SIU jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.

SIU (8-10-1, 3-0) opened MVC play with a 2-1 victory, in part, because of a complete game from senior pitcher Katie Bertelsen. The only Bradley run came from a solo home run by Braves freshman designated player Maria Schroeder.

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In the sixth inning, a hit, hit by pitch and sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third for junior pinch-hitter Caylee Cook. Cook landed a ball in shallow right field behind the second baseman, scoring senior center fielder Kalyn Harker and sophomore Shaye Harre.

Bertelsen came back in the top of the seventh to close the game and pick up the victory.

In the second game Sunday, the Salukis and Braves battled to the 10th inning before SIU came away with the 10-9 victory. SIU battled back from three deficits in the game.

The Salukis trailed 9-7 in the 10th. Harre led the inning with a double. A single by sophomore outfielder Merri Anne Patterson scored Harre and cut the Bradley lead to one.

Freshman third baseman Sydney Jones came to bat as the winning run, with the tying run on first.

“I was just trying to hit a ball hard and pass the bat,” she said. “Everybody in the lineup was hitting today, so I just wanted to get on base and let someone else do it if I had to do it that way.”

With the count at 1-1, Jones recorded her second game-winning home run of the season.

Coach Kerri Blaylock said she wanted to get the bat to Jones in the last inning.

“[Jones has] been money all season long for us,” she said. “Merri Anne’s at-bat was critical, just getting to Sydney and giving her an opportunity.”

Monday, the Salukis would not wait for a walk-off victory as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first en route to a 8-3 victory.

The first inning lead was the first time in the series the Salukis led before the sixth inning.

“I won’t say no lead is safe, but you have to play really good defense and pitch well because teams can come back,” Blaylock said. “You need to be able to close the door.”

Bertelsen (6-5) was back in the circle for the Salukis, and earned all three wins against the Braves.

Blaylock said the sweep was a huge way to start MVC play, and the credit should go to Bertelsen.

“We did a great job, but [Bertelsen] set the tone,” she said. “We had to attack the hitters differently [Monday] than [Sunday].”

Junior second baseman Kelsey Gonzalez and Harker sparked the offense from the No. 1 and 2 spots going a combined 7-for-8 with 3 runs and 2 RBIs.

Gonzalez said she has not batted leadoff since she was 12 years old but if the lineup is working, she does not want to change it.

“Right now it is working and everyone is comfortable,” she said. “The lineup is flowing.”

Jones was not a big factor in Monday’s victory, going 0-for-3 with 1 RBI. Jones failed to reach base for the second time in 19 games this season and ended her streak at 16 games.

The Salukis play against Saint Louis at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Charlotte West Stadium.

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

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