Softball: Dawgs dominate home opener against Creighton Bluejays, Ohio Bobcats


Isabel Miller | @IsabelMillerMedia

Saluki senior pitcher Brianna Jones is introduced to the field on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 during the Salukis 1-0 win against the Creighton Jays at Charlotte West Stadium.

By Tamar Mosby, Staff Reporter

SIU Softball took the home plate for the first time Friday, winning matchups against Creighton University and Ohio University.

The Salukis were scheduled to play in Chattanooga, Tennessee this weekend, but due to weather issues, the Dawgs moved their games to the Charlotte-West Stadium.

After today, SIU is on a nine game win streak, winning four consecutive games in Mexico last weekend.

Game 1: Creighton University

Southern’s first game of the day was played against the Creighton University Bluejays.

SIU trails Creighton in the all-time series 23-3. The Bluejays were members of the MVC until 2016. Despite trailing in the series, the Dawgs have won five of the last eight meetings between the teams.

The game began with the Salukis (9-2) forcing the Bluejays into three outs with just a single hit. Each out came on a throw to junior first baseman Kyleigh Decker.

Junior outfielder Susie Baranski was the first Saluki to make it to base. The junior advanced to second and was followed by sophomore infielder Jenny Jansen who hit the ball straight at the pitching mound to sneak onto first.

Unfortunately, the Dawgs were unable to string together enough hits to reach home base and the first inning ended 0-0.

The second inning began with an immediate out for the Bluejays through Decker at first. The next two came straight after on strikeouts thrown by senior pitcher Briana Jones.

Sophomore Megan Brown earned the first official hit for Southern, singling to left field to reach first in the bottom of the second inning.

Brown’s single turned out to be the only hit from SIU in the second, the score entering the third remained 0-0.

Two ground outs and a pop up took the Bluejays out of the third inning and put the Salukis up to bat.

Junior Nicole Johnson notched the second hit for Southern in the bottom of the third on a single to run to first and on the next hit, advancing to second on an error by Creighton’s third baseman.

Johnson was then able to make it to third on a sacrifice bunt from Vermejan. Before the junior outfielder could make it home, the Bluejays (5-6) forced a third out to end the inning.

Creighton earned their second hit of the game on a single to centerfield at the top of the fourth. This later converted to one stolen base and an advance to third but Jones ended all talk of a run scored as she struck out the next hitter to get the third out.

At the bottom of the fourth, things heated up for the Dawgs as junior Katelyn Massa nailed a single to left field to reach first.

A sacrifice bunt sent Massa’s pinch runner, sophomore Meredith Wernig, to second.

Soon after, an error by the Blue Jay catcher allowed Wernig to steal third base and gave the SIU hopes of scoring the first run of the game.

Despite the bases being loaded from two consecutive walks, Southern was unable to send Wernig home and the fourth inning ended with both teams still scoreless.

A single sent Creighton’s Natalie Alvarez to first base and an error on first base by Decker sent her to second. Bluejay efforts were put to a stop when a final ground out, put the Salukis up to bat.

With one out on the board, Jansen got things going for SIU in the bottom of the fifth hitting a double to left field just missing foul territory. A strikeout and a line out gave the Dawgs their third out and the game remained scoreless.

Two pop ups and a ground out gave Creighton a quick three outs in the sixth while struggling to score on the Southern defense.

Three outs on the Saluki end, sent the game into the seventh inning with the score tied at 0-0.

After handing Creighton three outs, Southern was up to bat once again. First to hit was Vermejan and did not disappoint, smacking a high ball to right field and advanced all the way to third on a Blue Jay outfield error.

A ground hit to right field by Jansen sent Vermejan home to not only give SIU their first run of the game, but the win at 1-0.

This win gave the Dawgs a 8-0 streak which is their first since 2016. It also brought Jones’s pitching record to 7-1.

Game 2: Ohio University

The Salukis took on the Ohio University Bobcats for the third time in program history.

SIU won the first meet between the teams in 2011, 12-8, while the Bobcats won the second in 2014, 2-0.

The first inning of the game opened with a single to left field for the Bobcats (6-4) which converted into an advance to second. This did not progress as a pop up and two strikeouts by junior pitcher Claire Miller earned three outs.

The first hit of the game for Southern came on a skillful bunt from Baranski, advancing to first. Jansen was the next in the lineup and she was walked to push Baranski to second base.

Wood brought the heat for the Salukis driving a double to right field to score Baranski. An error by Ohio during this play also allowed Jansen to score putting the Dawgs up 2-0 in the bottom of the first.

“I thought our kids did a great job coming up,” Blaylock said. “Ashley Wood and Jenny Jansen hit the ball extremely well today.”

Before Wood could score, three outs were earned and the game was sent into the second inning.

At the top of the second, SIU forced three ground outs on Ohio to return to the the plate to bat.

Decker walked to first to make some ground and later advanced to second on a sacrifice by sophomore Shelby Hodo.

A single from sophomore Maris Boelens advanced Decker to third and a pop up by Vermejan allowed her to steal home base to make the score 3-0. A fly out by Baranski marked the third out of the inning and left the score at 3-0 entering the third.

The Bobcats earned three straight outs to quickly end the top of the third inning and the Dawgs were back on the plate again to bat. Jansen was the first to bat in the third and she hit a single to left field for SIU.

“I have to credit our defense our third baseman and shortstop were outstanding,” Blaylock said. “It was a quality day for both pitching and defense.”

Massa was next to bat, but notched an out for Southern when her fly ball was caught. This led Wood to the plate to bat and she singled to left to get to first and push Jansen to second.

After Brown struck out, Decker was back up to bat for the Salukis – like Brown, she struck out at the plate to seal out number three.

Sticking with the same trend in the previous innings, the Dawgs forced three quick outs on their opponents and allowed no hits.

Hodo was the first batter the make first in the fourth inning as was walked by the Bobcat pitcher. The first and second outs of the inning came on the strikeouts of Boelens and Vermejan.

Hodo’s pinch runner, Wernig, was able to steal second base as Vermejan struck out to make some progress for SIU. Despite the ground made by Wernig, the Salukis were unable to send her home as a fly out by Baranski notched the third out and ended the fourth inning.

To open the fifth inning, the Bobcats earned there third hit of the game on a single to center field. The next hit by Ohio was another single down the center to put two players on base.

The Bobcat runner on second advanced to third on another single hit but before she could get home on another single, the ball went to first to notch the third out of the game and keep the Ohio team scoreless.

Jansen drove one down center field to hot first base and a sacrifice bunt by Massa pushed her to second. Brown smashed a single and was able to make first on an error from third base, while Jansen was able to reach third.

Before Jansen could hit home, one last forced out totaled three and the Bobcats went back up to bat for inning six. SIU forced three straight outs for the third inning of the game.

Southern was able to tally one hit in the bottom of the sixth, but the Ohio defense was able to keep the from scoring any runs and the score remained 3-0 entering the seventh inning.

In the top of the seventh the Bobcats tallied two hits, but this was not enough to give them the momentum to reach home plate. The third Ohio out sealed the 3-0 win for SIU.

This win put the Salukis at 2-0 for the day and extended their win streak to nine.

Both pitchers, Jones and Miller, allowed no runs in today’s matchups.

“Bri did a great job just pounding the zone,” Blaylock said. “Claire came in today and threw a shutout. She did very well and had command of all her pitches.”

The Dawgs will be back in action on Sunday at the Charlotte-West Field as they take on Ohio and Creighton for the second time this weekend. Game one is set to begin at 12:30 p.m.

“I don’t care too much about the win streak,” Blaylock said. “I care about Sunday’s first game and we just are trying to go one game at a time. We just want to do the little things right.”

Sports reporter Tamar Mosby can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @mosbytamar.

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