Monday, March 19, 2012
Sports News

Fischer collects 900th career win

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[March 19, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Illinois State softball team opened Missouri Valley Conference play on Friday evening with a pair of wins over Missouri State at Killian Stadium in Springfield, Mo., to make ISU head coach Melinda Fischer just the 20th coach in Division I softball history to reach 900 career victories. The Redbirds topped the Bears 4-0 in the opener and 11-2 in five innings in the nightcap.

"It is great to get to 900 wins, but it is even more important that we won two games to open conference play," Fischer said. "Getting to 900 wins is not an individual achievement. This was a team effort, and there are a lot of people that went into making all of these wins possible."

The Redbird offense pounded out 23 hits in the two wins over the Bears, with four Illinois State players recording at least three hits. Sophomore Laura Canopy paced ISU, going 5 for 6 with a pair of RBIs; senior Liz Andrews finished 4 for 8 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs; and junior Jhavon Hamilton had a four-hit evening, with two extra-base hits, including her second grand slam of the season.

Senior Jordan Birch turned in an impressive outing in the circle, holding MSU to just two hits in a complete-game shutout win in the first game. Birch struck out five Missouri State hitters without issuing a walk, to improve to 8-7 on the year.

After stranding three runners in scoring position through the first two innings in the opener, ISU got on the board with a pair of runs in the top of the third. Junior Lauren Kellar reached on a one-out error by MSU pitcher Natalie Rose and scored on a double by Andrews later in the frame. Canopy capped the inning with an RBI single to right that put ISU up 2-0.

The Redbirds added an insurance run in the fourth, when Hamilton drove in freshman Lindsey Greene, who led off the inning with her first career double.

Rebecca McPherson led off the bottom of the fifth with a single for Missouri State, but Birch was able to retire the next nine Bears to seal the victory. Junior Elizabeth Kay added the final run for ISU with a solo home run to left in the seventh, her fourth of the season, to make the final score 4-0.

The Illinois State offense struck early and often in the nightcap, scoring three runs on four hits in the bottom of the first to take an early 3-0 advantage. After a groundout by Hamilton to lead off the game, Kellar, Kay, Andrews and Canopy connected for four straight singles to provide the first two runs. Andrews was able to cross the plate for the third after an errant throw by the Missouri State catcher on Canopy's stolen base.

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The Bears responded with four consecutive hits of their own to score a pair of runs in the bottom of the second and trim the margin to 3-2. McPherson started the rally with a one-out single and later scored on a single by Erin Duewel. MSU starter Chelsea Jones helped her own cause with an RBI double to left center to score Alissa Trickey, who pinch ran for Duewel.

The Redbirds answered with a six-run third inning to push their lead to 9-2. Andrews scored the first run on a Missouri State error, and freshman Kolby Hoffman drove in the second with an RBI single to left. Hamilton followed by belting a grand slam over the wall in right to highlight the inning.

MSU threatened in the bottom of the third, getting a pair of runners in scoring position, but ISU starter Megan Warner was able to get a pair of groundouts to end the inning. Warner limited the Bears to just two hits in the final two innings to secure Fischer's historic win.

Redshirt sophomore Nichelle Harrison drove in a run with an infield single in the fourth to give Illinois State an eight-run advantage, and Kay drove in Kellar with a sacrifice fly in the fifth to cap the scoring and make the final tally 11-2.

Warner improved to 6-4 on the season with the victory inside the circle, allowing a pair of runs on eight hits with no strikeouts or walks.

The Redbirds looked to complete the sweep of the Bears on Saturday afternoon, when the first pitch was slated for noon.

[Text from file received from Illinois State]

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