Monday, April 23, 2012
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Redbirds power past Bradley in doubleheader sweep

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[April 23, 2012]  PEORIA -- The Illinois State offense came alive in a doubleheader sweep of in-state rival Bradley in Missouri Valley Conference play Saturday afternoon at Laura Bradley Park in Peoria. The Redbirds won the opener 4-1 before recording a season-high 15 hits in a 9-4 win in the nightcap.

Senior Liz Andrews and juniors Jhavon Hamilton and Elizabeth Kay all homered for ISU (27-20, 12-7 MVC) and combined for 11 hits and 10 RBIs. Kay finished 4 for 7 with a homer and four RBIs; Andrews blasted a two-run shot and finished with four hits and two RBIs; while Hamilton added three hits, including a three-run home run and drove in four. Redshirt sophomore Nichelle Harrison also added four hits for Illinois State, finishing the twin bill 4 for 7 at the plate with a run scored and an RBI.

In the circle, senior Jordan Birch picked up her 16th win of the year, allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts in game one. Freshman Sophia Perez notched her second career win and first career Valley win by tossing 3 1-3 innings of relief in game two. The Simi Valley, Calif., native scattered three hits and fanned three Bradley (17-24, 7-11 MVC) hitters without walking a batter.

Illinois State struck first in the opener, plating a run in the third inning on Kay's RBI single through the left side. Junior Lauren Kellar was hit by a pitch with one out to start the inning, and Andrews followed by reaching on an error, prior to Kay's base hit.

Hamilton extended the Redbirds' lead to 4-0 in the fourth inning by belting a three-run homer off the wall in the left center for her eighth long ball of the season. The Braves answered with a run in the bottom of the inning, taking advantage of an ISU throwing error, to trim the margin to 4-1.

Neither team would score after the fourth, as Birch allowed just two hits over the final three innings to secure the win, and six Illinois State players combined for the team's seven hits.

ISU continued to swing hot bats in the nightcap and took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Hamilton's RBI single that scored Harrison. Harrison reached on a one-out single, and freshman Lindsay Greene coaxed a two-out walk to turn the order back over to Hamilton.

The Redbirds opened the third inning with four straight hits and went on to plate four runs to open up a 5-0 lead. Andrews led off the frame with a triple off the wall in center, and Kay followed with a two-run blast to left center. Sophomore Laura Canopy and senior Caiti Kopp followed the round-tripper with back-to-back singles, and sophomore Kolby Hoffman drew a one-out walk to chase Bradley starter Mackenzie Camp. Greene capped the inning with a single up the middle that plated Kopp.

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Bradley got a run back in its half of the third on Jackie Roth's RBI single to center that plated Alison Kresl and made the score 5-1 in favor of the Redbirds.

Harrison pushed the Illinois State advantage back to five runs in the fourth with a two-out infield single that allowed Canopy to score, but Bradley would mount a rally in the bottom half of the stanza, as they scored three runs on six hits. Alex Chandler singled with one out to start a streak of five-consecutive hits for BU, with the fourth chasing Illinois State starter Megan Warner after 3 2-3 innings. Mariah Cole capped Bradley's offensive attack with a double to left to cut the ISU lead to 6-4, before Perez recorded a strikeout to end the inning.

Andrews quickly swung the momentum back in Illinois State's favor by drilling a two-out, two-run homer over the wall in right in push the lead back to 8-4. She just missed hitting for the cycle, as she singled to right in her fifth and final at-bat to cap a four-hit performance. Kay added an RBI single in the seventh to seal a 9-4 victory, as Perez silenced the Braves over the final 3 1-3 innings.

ISU looked to complete the sweep of Bradley Sunday afternoon at Laura Bradley Park, with the first pitch of the series finale slated for noon.

[Text from news release received from Dustin Hall, Illinois State University]

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