The Redbirds (20-15, 6-3 MVC) struggled to find an offensive
rhythm against SIU (20-9, 7-2 MVC) starter Alyssa Wunderlich.
Wunderlich improved to 8-1 in the circle, holding Illinois State to
one run on just four hits.
Senior Jordan Birch had another strong outing in the circle and
pitched out of a pair of jams early in the contest, before conceding
two runs, one of them earned, in the bottom of the fifth. Birch
scattered six hits and recorded four strikeouts around just one walk
in the complete-game effort. The loss dropped Birch's record to 12-9
on the year.
In their first at-bat, the Redbirds put runners on first and second,
but were unable to take the early lead. Junior Lauren Kellar singled
and senior Lizzie Andrews coaxed a two-out walk. Then Saluki second
baseman Jayna Spivey made a great play on a well-hit ball to the
right side to retire the side.
Southern Illinois threatened in both the second and the third, but
Birch was able to get a pair of key strikeouts to keep SIU off the
scoreboard. In the second, Allie VadeBoncouer reached on an error to
start the frame and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, before
Meredith Wilson's single to left put runners on the corners with
just one out. Birch fanned Spivey for the second out and got Morgan Barchan to pop out to end the threat.
Kayln Harker and Mallory Sellers led off the SIU third with a pair
of infield hits and moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt.
Birch countered by inducing a groundout by Hayley Gorman and struck
out VadeBoncouer to strand two more.
[to top of second column]
Kay broke a scoreless tie
with her sixth home run of the season, a solo shot to left, before
Andrews followed with a single through the right side. However,
Wunderlich would strand Andrews at second and end the frame with a
pair of fly-outs and a groundout.
After leaving a combined six runners on base in the second
through fourth innings, Southern Illinois capitalized in the
fifth. Sellers led off the inning with a walk and advanced into
scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. Gorman tied the game 1-1
by belting a double to right center that was nearly hauled in by
Andrews. VadeBoncouer followed with a hard-hit ball to short
that was mishandled by freshman Lindsey Greene and allowed
Gorman to score from second to give the Salukis a 2-1 advantage.
The Redbirds got a leadoff runner on in the seventh, but could
not plate the tying run, as Katie Bertelsen came out of the
bullpen to record the final out for the Salukis and notch her
third save of the season.
Illinois State will look to bounce back Wednesday in a
nonconference matchup at in-state rival Illinois. The first
pitch is slated at 6 p.m. from Eichelberger Field in Urbana.
[Text from file received from