Softball sweeps Evansville Aces, winning streak advances to 10

By Tamar Mosby, Sports Reporter

Saluki Softball swept the Evansville Aces in a conference three game series this weekend – extending their winning streak to 10.

The first game of the series was played on Friday night, and the next two were played on Saturday afternoon.

Friday marked the 94th meeting of the Aces and Salukis in a series which dates back to 1986. This weekend Southern extended its lead by 40 wins over Evansville in the all-time series with the record now sitting at 68-28.

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Game 1: The first game took place on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. due to weather rescheduling.

This last minute change in schedule seemed not to bother the Salukis as they were the first team on the board after they scored one run in the second inning.

This came on an RBI single from sophomore right fielder Megan Brown as she plated her teammate Meredith Wernig.

Despite the Aces kicking off the top of the third inning with one run on two hits, Southern kept its momentum scoring four more runs in the bottom of the inning.

Three of the four runs came courtesy of freshman infielder Ashley Wood who slammed a solo homer over the fence to bring in two of her teammates pushing the SIU lead up to 5-1. This homer from Wood was her seventh of the season and a team high.

In the next inning Evansville notched another run on the board to cut the Saluki lead down to three, but Southern continued  to bring the heat manufacturing another run in the bottom of the inning with junior infielder Kyleigh Decker.

The next two innings of the game were scoreless for both teams. The Aces were able to score one more run in the seventh inning, but the Dawgs were too far ahead for them to catch and they took home the win at 6-3.

Defense was the key for SIU during this game as the Salukis improved their record to 48 straight errorless innings. Southern is also currently ranked eighth nationally in fielding percentage.

“I’m proud that we are ranked in the top-10 nationally for our defense especially when you consider that we don’t strike out a lot of people so there are a lot of balls put into play,” said Saluki head coach Kerri Blaylock. “All year, our defense has been very solid and I think it wins us ballgames.”

Senior pitcher Brianna Jones earned her 14th straight win of the season on this game and struck out five batters. After this game, Jones moved up to a tie for second on the Saluki all-time wins list.

Game 2: Game two of the series was a low scoring game for both teams, but SIU was still able to squeak out a tough win.

The first four innings of the game were scoreless on both ends with Marousek pitching the first three innings for Southern. The sophomore allowed two hits and struck out to Ace batters. Jones came in on relief for Marousek to finish the game allowing one hit and striking out four batters.

The Dawgs were the first on the scoreboard once again after they scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on a solo homer from junior infielder Maddy Vermejan and an RBI from junior catcher Katelyn Massa.

The Aces scored a solo homer of their own in the top of the sixth inning, but tight defense from SIU kept the Indiana team at a single run. This defense sealed the win for Southern at 2-1.

This game gave Jones her 82nd career win officially moving her into a solo second place spot on the all-time wins list.

“We were a little disappointed offensively but you have to give credit to Evansville’s pitching staff,” Blaylock said. “We were uncharacteristically undisciplined at the plate. But wow- amazing pitching and defense. Holly, Claire and Bri all were outstanding and our defense was phenomenal.”

Game 3: Like game two, the third game was low scoring, but Southern’s impeccable defense allowed them to walk away with the win and the sweep.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning when Brown manufactured a run for Southern making the score 1-0.

After another scoreless inning, the Dawgs took the field again in the bottom of the fifth scoring another run on a solo homer from Massa.

Thanks to the SIU defense led by sophomore infielder Jenny Jansen, Evansville (12-22, MVC 2-9) was held scoreless for the remainder of the game giving Southern the win at 2-0.

After this weekend’s series the Dawgs are now on a 10 game win streak for the first time since 2011.

The team will return to the field this Tuesday in Springfield, Missouri as they take on the Missouri State Lady Bears. The first pitch will be thrown at 12 pm.

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

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