Dawgs clip Skyhawks’ wings

By Tony McDaniel

SIU softball has found its way back into the win column after a dominant performance at home.

The Salukis (25-20) played the University of Tennessee at Martin (23-24-1) in Carbondale Thursday night, scoring early and often to beat the Skyhawks 9-0 in just four-and-a-half innings.

SIU opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning when sophomore Kelsey Gonzalez hit a three-run homerun well over the left field wall to give the Salukis a three-run lead.


“I just tried to be aggressive on the first good pitch that I saw,” Gonzalez said. “I knew that I got a lot of the ball so I was hoping that it was going to go over.”

Two batters later, senior Taylor Orsburn got caught in a run down between third base and home but was able to beat a throw to the plate and score to give SIU a four-run lead. On the next at-bat, freshman Merri Anne Patterson hit a two-RBI single to give the Salukis a 6-0 lead over the Skyhawks after just one inning

Gonzalez said the early lead made the game less stressful defensively.

“It makes a huge difference defensively and makes our pitchers a lot more confident,” she said. “We know our defense is good enough that we can score six runs and still win the game.”

In the bottom of the second inning defensive miscues from UT-Martin allowed the Salukis to score three times on just two hits to put SIU in front by a score of 9-0.

Orsburn started the game in the circle for the Salukis with one of her best starts yet. Orsburn held the Skyhawks’ bats to no runs and just four hits to earn the win and improve to 6-2 on the season.  It was also the first shutout of her career.

Coach Kerri Blaylock said Orsburn’s performances this season have been amazing.


“She was great, very effective,” Blaylock said. “The thing about it is a kid that hasn’t thrown for five years [is] throwing a shutout against [UT-Martin], which is a great offensive ball club. She continues to amaze me this year.

With the win the Salukis improve to 25-20 and are 10-4 in April.  Blaylock said she has coached a resilient ball club this season.

“I think in today’s Division I softball you just better be ready to play every game because you could lose three, you could win seven, lose four, its just the way it works,” she said. “All I know is that we have been a team that has bounced back really well.”

SIU will travel to conference-leading Wichita State University (30-18, 17-4) for a three-game series Saturday and Sunday.

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