Jones throws a perfect game in Southern’s Coach B Classic

By Tamar Mosby, Sports Reporter

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The SIU Softball traveled this weekend to host the Coach B Classic because of inclement weather, going south to Tennessee.

Over the course of the weekend the Dawgs took on the Murray State Racers, the Saint Louis University Billikens and the University of Kentucky Wildcats. This weekend proved to be tough for Southern as they came home with a 1-2 record.

Game 1 (Murray State)

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Southern’s first matchup of day one was against the Murray State Racers.

This game was one of SIU’s two weekend losses as they fell to the Racers in a 5-3 scuffle.

“Our losses this year have come when we don’t necessarily have quality at bats early in the game,” said SIU head coach Kerri Blaylock. “That is something we need to work on and I thought our energy was a little low as well.”

Friday’s game was the 10th meeting of the two teams and the Dawgs still lead Murray State 6-4 in the all-time series after this weekend.

In this game, Southern was forced to compete without key players Maddy Vermejan and Maris Boelens.

“We were short handed today, playing without Maddy Vermejan and Maris Boelens and I thought the kids that stepped in to play for them did a good job,” Blaylock said.

The Racers kicked off the first inning scoring two runs on the Salukis from solo homers.

After a scoreless second inning, Murray (6-9)  began the top of the third with another two solo homers to make the score 4-0.

The Dawgs were able to score three runs of their own on a single to centerfield by Eyrika Brandenburg and a double by sophomore Jenny Jansen  in the bottom of this inning to put the score within one.

Senior pitcher Brianna Jones was relieved after the third inning and junior Claire Miller took the mound.

Miller allowed no hits until the seventh inning and struck out five Racers.

“I thought Claire came in and settled us down,” Blaylock said. “She threw really well and gave us an opportunity to win.”

The final run of the game was another solo homer from Murray and this sealed their 5-3 win over Southern.

Game 2 (Saint Louis)

On day two, the Dawgs took on the Saint Louis University Billikens winning the game 10-0.

In this game history was made in the program as senior pitcher Brianna Jones threw a perfect game against SLU making her just the fourth player in school history to do so.

“It was nice to get the perfect game back in my home state of Tennessee in front of a lot of my friends and family,” Jones said. “As a team, we have talked a lot about starting early and coming with energy and I thought we did well with that today. I am really just glad that we could respond from yesterday’s loss with a good win.”

After this weekend, the teams have met 51 times in match up history with Southern holding a 46-4 lead over Saint Louis in the all time series.

The first run for SIU was a solo homer from freshman Ashley Wood put the score at 1-0.

Wood was the top performer for the Salukis beside Jones as she hit two solo home runs in the game (with one being a grand slam) and notched five RBI’s. Wood became just the ninth freshman in program history to hit two home runs in one game.

The next three runs came in the second inning on a three run homer from senior Jordan Spicer after she nailed a ball to the left field bleachers. These runs brought the score to 4-0.

The final runs of the game came in the bottom of the fourth inning on a two run double from junior Kyleigh Decker and a grand slam from Wood which sealed the 10-0 win over the Billikens (2-10).

In this game the Salukis totaled 13 hits and three homers with each batter in the lineup notching a hit.

“We had a long conversation yesterday as a team about our consistency, personality and energy,” said Saluki associate head coach Jen Sewell said. “I thought we saw that show up on the field today. I think that is what we can do if we are consistent. We cannot play any team too high or too low, but should instead play everybody the same. When we do that, we can get on a roll offensively.”

Game 3 (University of Kentucky)

Southern’s final game of the Coach B Classic was played against the University of Kentucky Wildcats (10-7).

The Wildcats are currently ranked 17th in the nation and defeated SIU in a 6-5 seven inning battle.

The Dawgs now hold a 1-4 all time record against UK with their last win against the Lexington team being in 1998.

Miller was SIU’s starting pitcher for this game, but the junior struggled against the Kentucky batters and was replaced by sophomore Holly Marousek.

Marousek allowed one two run double during her time on the mound and she was later replaced by Jones in the third inning.

“When Brianna toes up on the mound, it gives you a sense that we are in the game,” Sewell said, “I think Holly brought us to that point as well, with some big outs that she got. You can tell that Brianna got in there and kind of shut everything down. From that, we got swings and quality at bats rolling.”

Southern kicked off the scoring in the top of the first with a single RBI from Katelyn Massa, but the Wildcats responded scoring four runs in the bottom of the same inning.

The Dawgs went scoreless until the fifth inning while UK tacked on one run to their score in the bottom of the third inning.

In the fifth inning Wood came through for SIU again slamming another solo homer to make the score 5-2.

It wasn’t until the seventh inning when the Salukis found their footing. They scored three runs on an RBI by Wood and a two run homer by Jansen.

Jansen’s run tied the game at 5-5, but the Wildcats scored a run in the bottom of the inning to steal the win at 6-5.

The Salukis will take the field again in Carbondale on Wednesday against the Murray State Racers. The first pitch is set for 3 p.m.

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

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