Saluki Softball races past Murray State, Marousek earns second DI win

By Tamar Mosby, Staff Reporter

SIU hosted the Murray State Racers this afternoon for a mid week match up winning the game 4-0 in six and a half innings.

Today’s game marked the 11th meeting of the two teams with the Salukis now leading the Racers 7-4 in the all-time series.

Murray took home a victory the last time the two teams met in Tennessee, but the Dawgs entered today’s matchup looking to extend their now six game win streak.

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Sophomore Holly Marousek started at the mound today for Southern in place of senior pitcher Briana Jones, who is being rested for conference play. Today was the sophomore’s first full game as a pitcher and the win marked just her second Division One victory.

“We’ve been trying to give Bri a little bit of rest because you get dinged up a lot when you’re  older,” said Saluki head coach Kerri Blaylock. “Holly did a really good job in the later innings against some really big hitters that have 6 or 7 home runs.”

Murray State started out at bat to begin the first inning earning one hit with the first batter in their line up on a single to left field.

The next Racer up to bat was able to earn a single as well against Marousek and the Saluki defense putting two on base.

The Dawgs were able to notch two outs  onto Murray after making a double play on the next bat to send two runners back to the dugout.  The third out was solidified on a fly ball catch by sophomore right fielder Megan Brown.

“I think the key to this game was our defense in the first innings,” Blaylock said. “Megan Brown did a great job of knowing what base to throw it to and we doubled them and got out of that inning with no runs.”

After two quick outs were tagged onto Southern from one ground out and one fly out, freshman shortstop Ashley Wood was able to slam a single out to left field. After the single SIU was sent back out to the field after a fly out leaving the score at 0-0 after the first inning.

The Racers started the second inning very strong quickly earning their third hit of the game on a double to deep centerfield. The runner at second was not able to advance any further as the Dawgs’ defense forced three outs shortly after.

Junior catcher Katelyn Massa was the first batter in the line up for SIU in the bottom of the second as she slammed the ball over the left field wall on her second pitch to send the score to 1-0.

Brown kept the Southern momentum high in Charlotte West Stadium as she slammed her first pitch over the left field wall as well giving the Salukis back-to-back solo homers and putting the score at 2-0.

After two outs were earned by the Dawgs, freshman third baseman Sidney Sikes reached first after she was hit by a pitch. The next Saluki to reach first was junior left fielder Susie Baranski as she was walked by Murray’s pitcher.

Junior second baseman Maddy Vermejan was the next batter up and  also advanced to first after being hit by a pitch loading the bases for Southern Illinois.

After the fourth Saluki advanced on a walk, Sikes plated and the score was pushed to 3-0  loading the bases once again. Even after switching pitchers Murray walked another SIU batter pushing the score to 4-0. The Dawgs were finally sent back out on defense after Massa grounded out to third base.

“Katelyn’s locked in and she’s hitting the ball hard,” Blaylock said. “That was a huge boost for us right off the bat.”

The Salukis made it back to their dugout  very quickly as they tagged three consecutive outs onto the Racers after two ground outs and a diving catch made by Sikes.

In the bottom of the third, Murray moved onto their third pitcher of the day and this seemed to work in favor of the Kentucky team as they quickly pinned two straight outs onto the Dawgs.

Sophomore catcher Shelby Hodo was the first to reach base for SIU on a walk, but this was short lived as the third out was earned on a caught fly ball leaving the score 4-0 entering the fourth.

The Southern Illinois defense and Marousek continued to keep the Murray batters in check as they tagged three outs onto the Racers with a strikeout, and two fly outs.

“Our defense was really working hard and that drove me to settle down and keep going,” Marousek said.

The Salukis started off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single from sophomore Maris Boelens which fell just behind third base.

After Vermejan is struck out, Wood was able to smack a single out to deep left field and advance Boelens to second. Sophomore center fielder Jenny Jansen flied out on the next pitch, but both Wood and Boelens were able to advance to second and third. Unfortunately the runners never reached home as Massa grounded out on the next pitch.

Marousek opened the fifth inning for the Dawgs striking out the first Murray batter in the line up, while the second and third batters flied out sending Southern back to the dugout.

“I think Holly settled down and threw very well,” said Saluki head coach Kerri Blaylock. “Her last few outings have been great and she’s going to be big for us during conference play.”

Brown got the Salukis started in the bottom of the fifth smacking a low single up centerfield. After the strikeouts of two SIU batters, Sikes flied out giving her team their third out of the inning and sending the game into the sixth inning with the score still sitting at 4-0.

The Racers earned three consecutive outs at the top of the sixth on one strikeout and two ground outs. After the top of the sixth Marousek had retired 14 of Murray’s batters.

Murray junior pitcher Ellison Barrett proved to be Murray’s saving grace as she struck out several Saluki batters and allowed one run since she relieved her teammate in the third inning. While the Dawgs did earn two hits in the the bottom of the sixth, they were unable to score and the score remained 4-0 entering the seventh inning.

Only needing to force three outs to win the game, SIU came out strong in the top of the seventh inning grounding out the very first batter in the lineup and flying out the second and third batters.

These three consecutive outs ended the game promptly and gave Southern the win at 4-0.

The Dawgs will be back on the field tomorrow in St. Louis as they take on the SLU Billikens with the first pitch scheduled for 4:00 p.m.

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

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