SIU sweeps aside Loyola Ramblers

SIU sweeps aside Loyola Ramblers

By Tony McDaniel

SIU softball extended its season-high winning streak to seven games with a sweep of Missouri Valley Conference newcomer Loyola University.

The Dawgs (24-19, 12-7) won all three games this weekend against the Ramblers (16-27, 7-12) thanks to strong pitching performances from junior Katie Bertelsen and senior Taylor Orsburn.

Coach Kerri Blaylock said a large part of SIU’s success in the recent stretch of games has stemmed from the emotional boost the bench has given the team.

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“The energy on the bench from Taylor Harris and Caylee Cook started the Bradley series and we’ve just been elevated,” she said. “It’s helped us out a lot and the kids have fed off of it.”

Game one Friday against Loyola was a duel between each team’s starters resulting in a 2-1 Saluki win.

Loyola sent senior lefty Brittany Gardner to the circle to face SIU’s ace Bertelsen. Both pitchers would go the distance for their team. Gardner was lights out for Loyola, holding SIU to just one hit through the first six innings and seemed in line for the win heading into the seventh inning with a 1-0 lead over the Salukis.

In the seventh inning the Salukis attempted a double steal with sophomore Kelsey Gonzalez on third, and junior Kara Kimball on first. Loyola’s catcher overthrew the ball to second base, which allowed Gonzalez to score and tie the game 1-1. The error allowed Kimball to advance to third base.

The next batter, junior Meredith Wilson, saw 16 pitches before she hit a single to score Kimball and seal the win for SIU 2-1 in walk-off fashion.

“I was just trying to foul off as many pitches as I could,” Wilson said. “I tried to hit a good one and find something I could put in fair territory and get that run in.”

Friday’s second game would not need to be decided by late game heroics.

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Orsburn held the Rambler batters in check allowing just one run in seven innings. SIU scored five times in the bottom of the third to propel the Dawgs to a 7-1 victory.

Orsburn’s win was her second in as many starts for the senior. Blaylock said she was pleased with her pitchers’ performances Friday.

“Taylor did a great job, Bertie did a great job,” she said. “Remember, we’re asking [Orsburn] who hasn’t thrown for four years to come out and start, and she’s doing a good job.”

Saturday brought with it the third and final game of the series and also a 6-2 SIU victory.

Bertelsen and Gardner got the starts again for their teams, but this time it was Bertelsen with the stronger performance. Bertelsen threw seven innings with six strikeouts on the way to her 13th win of the season.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, senior Jayna Spivey hit her 16th double of the season, which is a new SIU record for doubles in a season. Spivey surpassed Orsburn’s mark of 15 last season.

Spivey said she was not aware she broke her teammate’s record.

“[Orsburn] is just as deserving and she will probably add a few more to her career total,” she said. “I’m just glad that my class has put the stamp on the offensive numbers from the past and hopefully we’ll be remembered for that.”

The Salukis could extend their run of wins to eight games with a win Tuesday when the Dawgs travel to Evansville, Ind. for one game against the Purple Aces.

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected], @tonymcdanielDE or at 536-3311 ext. 282

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