Daily Egyptian

Saluki softball drops pair in Georgia tournament

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

Seven games and two tournaments into the season, the Saluki softball team is 2-5 after dropping a pair of close games in Georgia this weekend.

“We have to toughen up a little bit,” coach Kerri Blaylock said. “We did a great job [Friday] night; that’s what’s so frustrating to me. We didn’t do it [Saturday].”

SIU started the weekend with a 5-2 loss to the No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats (6-2). Senior pitcher Katie Bertelsen got the start against the Wildcats and allowed 2 earned runs after entering the game with a 7.64 ERA.

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Blaylock said she is happy with Bertelsen’s pitching this year.

“She’s gotten some tough teams early, but she came out ready,” Blaylock said. “Today, she threw some quality pitches that made them hit weak ground balls.”

The Salukis took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning with a two-out rally. Freshman left fielder Savannah Fisher singled and freshman catcher Sydney Jones followed with an RBI triple. Junior second baseman Lacey Newbold then singled to score Jones. The four hits SIU registered in the inning would be the Salukis’ only hits of the game.

The lead dissipated in the top of the fourth when Kentucky scored two runs. With two outs, sophomore designated player Breanne Ray doubled, scoring two of her teammates and tying the game.

Kentucky piled on three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to secure the victory. With two outs, an error by sophomore Brook Womack allowed Kentucky junior shortstop Christian Stokes to reach base. Two singles and a double later, the Wildcats had the 5-2 lead that would wind up the final score.

“We went toe-to-toe with the No. 5 team in the country,” Blaylock said. “We made us a mistake that cost us three runs. Give them credit. That’s why they’re the No. 5 team in the country.”

In the second game Friday, SIU had to use all 17 of its players to win 8-6 over the Morehead State Eagles (2-4).

The Salukis were down 5-0 after the fifth inning. In the top of the sixth, they scored two runs.

The Eagles added another run in the bottom of the sixth to extend the lead to 6-2.

In the top of the seventh, SIU scored six runs to win 8-6. With one out and the bases loaded, sophomore first baseman Shaye Harre hit a grand slam to tie the game. Senior right fielder Meredith Wilson reached base on a walk, which was followed by Jones’ two-run home run.

“I was just looking for a pitch I could drive,” Jones said. “We were tied and Meredith was on, so I just wanted to do something productive—either move her or something of that nature. [The pitcher] put one right down the pipe.”

Saturday, SIU lost its only game 7-6 to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (4-3). SIU led the game on three occasions.

SIU went up 2-0 in the first inning with a two-out, two-run single by Jones. The lead was extended to 3-0 in the top of the second on an error by IUPUI sophomore third baseman Roni Patterson.

The lead went back and forth and the Salukis used another two-out rally in the top of the sixth to take a 6-5 lead on a junior second baseman Kelsey Gonzalez two-run home run.

Gonzalez was without a hit in her previous 12 at-bats, but Blaylock did not doubt her ability at the plate.

“I knew she would get on track,” she said. “She’s that type of player. At the moment, it was a huge hit.”

IUPUI’s Patterson made up for her second inning error with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to give the Jaguars the final 7-6 lead.

“I was really disappointed we didn’t get away with a win,” Blaylock said. “It felt like we were swimming upstream all day today. Our energy wasn’t that great. We didn’t pitch very well, but I still thought we would overcome that.”

The Salukis play in the Red/Blue Classic at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Oxford Miss.

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

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