Saluki softball starts season in South Carolina

By Brent Meske| @BrentmeskeDE, Daily Egyptian

Saluki softball kicked off the season with a 1-3 record in Charleston, S.C., at the Charleston Southern Tournament.

Sophomore pitcher and infielder Shaye Harre paced the Salukis both pitching and hitting. She had 3 hits in 11 at bats, and finished the weekend with a .273 batting average. Harre was able to reach base in six of eight plate appearances Friday and had 3 walks against Ohio State University. Harre also picked up the win and game winning run against University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

The Salukis dropped the first game of the season 7-4 to Ohio State University in eight innings. Senior pitcher Katie Bertelsen took the loss, but held the Buckeyes scoreless in four-straight innings after they took a 3-0 lead in the third inning.

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SIU fought back with a two-out rally led by sophomore catcher Jessa Thomas’ double to start the fourth inning. Sophomore outfielder Merri Anne Patterson scored Thomas with an RBI single. Junior second baseman Kelsey Gonzalez singled home Patterson and the Salukis tied the game when senior center fielder Kaylyn Harker, who was hit by a pitch, scored on a wild throw by Buckeye junior catcher Cammi Prantl.

In the top of the eighth inning, SIU took the 4-3 lead when junior designated hitter Caylee Cook’s sacrifice fly scored senior outfielder Kara Kimball.

Ohio State tied the game then won it on first baseman Jala Saibene’s two-out, three-run walk off home run.

In Friday’s second game, the Salukis defeated UMBC 4-3 in eight innings.

After trailing 3-0 for the second game in a row, the Salukis were on the better end of a walk off hit.

Harre picked up the win after going 5.2 innings, allowing 6 hits and 2 earned runs with 1 strikeout. She also batted in the three-hole and went 3-4, driving in the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning.

In a Saluki athletic press conference, Harre said she was looking to hit against UMBC.

“I didn’t get a good opportunity to hit in the first game,” she said. “When I saw [UMBC] was going to pitch to me, I got some good swings in.”

Freshmen Sydney Jones, Jessica Heese and Savanna Dover all contributed against Ohio State and UMBC. Jones, who played catcher in both games, finished with an RBI in the win over the Retrievers. Heese scored as a pinch runner against the Buckeyes and Dover was the starting pitcher against UMBC.

After two games, coach Kerri Blaylock said she was happy with the team’s resilience.

“We’re gritty,” Blaylock said in a Saluki athletic press conference. “We just do things that we need to do to survive. That’s a really good place to grow from.”

SIU started day two with another loss to Ohio State, this time the score was 7-2. For the first time in the early season, the Salukis were the first team on the scoreboard.

Harker started the bottom of the first inning off with a single and later scored when Buckeye sophomore third baseman Anna Kirk overthrew the ball on senior outfielder Meredith Wilson’s single.

The Buckeyes quickly responded with three runs of their own in the top of the second inning and added another run in the top of the third.

Wilson added another RBI in the bottom of the fifth inning on her double that scored sophomore shortstop Brook Womack, to cut the Buckeye lead to 4-2.

Ohio State responded with three runs in the top of the sixth inning to extend the lead to the games final score; 7-2.

In the final game of the weekend, the Salukis took on undefeated Charleston Southern University Buccaneers. The Salukis were no match for the Buccaneer offense and lost 11-1 in five innings.

CSU sophomore starting pitcher Cheyenne Gandara struck out the side in both the first and fourth innings en route to a five inning pitched victory with 4 hits and 8 strikeouts.

The Buccaneers jumped out to a lead early and never looked back. Senior first baseman Marci Christian had a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning giving the Buccaneers a 2-0 lead.

SIU’s only run of the game came on freshman left fielder Savannah Fisher’s first collegiate home run in the top of the third inning. Through four games she is batting .600 with 2 runs, 4 RBIs and 1 home run.

CSU extended its lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the third and proceeded to tack on eight runs in the fourth.

The Salukis will travel to Kennesaw, Ga., for the Rafler Memorial Tournament beginning at 11 a.m. Feb. 13.

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

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