Redbirds split doubleheader at UNI
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[May 07, 2012]
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The Illinois
State softball team split a Saturday afternoon doubleheader with Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to open the final weekend of
Missouri Valley Conference regular-season play. The Redbirds won the
opener 1-0 behind a shutout from senior pitcher Jordan Birch,
prior to dropping the nightcap 3-0.
Birch picked up her 21st win and 10th shutout of the season for
Illinois State (33-31, 18-8 MVC) in game one, as she outdueled UNI's
(38-15, 21-4 MVC) Jamie Fisher. The duo entered the weekend ranked
first or second in the Valley in nearly every pitching category and
combined to allow just five hits in the contest. Birch gave up just
two hits and walked only one, while recording 10 strikeouts to win
her seventh straight start.
Junior Jhavon Hamilton provided the only run of the game in the top
of the sixth, when she led off the frame with a solo home run to
right center for her team-leading 11th homer of the season.
The Panthers did not have a runner advance beyond first base until
the fifth. Whitney Plein led off with a single to left field and
advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a groundout. Birch
stranded her there by inducing an inning-ending fly-out to left.
Illinois State had a chance to add to its lead in the seventh, when
senior Caiti Kopp singled to lead off the inning and moved to third
on a pair of sacrifice bunts, before Fisher ended the inning with a
groundout of freshman Kelsey Turczyn.
In game two, UNI got on the board quickly, as it scored a run in the
bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Mackenzie Daigh led off the
inning with a double to shallow left and scored on an RBI single by
ISU stranded a runner in scoring position in each of
the first two innings, and Northern Iowa failed to extended its lead
in the third as Illinois State starter Megan Warner was able to
pitch out of a jam, after the Panthers put runners on second and
third with just one out.
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UNI pushed its advantage to 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth.
Daigh singled to right to start the inning, and Laura Turner
followed with a two-run blast to left that chased Warner.
Freshman Sophia Perez came out of the bullpen and allowed just
one hit and struck out three in the final 1 2-3 innings.
Northern Iowa starter Jaye Hutcheson allowed just three Redbirds
hits on her way to the seventh shutout of the season. Hutcheson
struck out 11, including the final four ISU hitters she faced.
With their win and losses by Southern Illinois and Creighton
earlier in the day, the Redbirds clinched the No. 2 seed for the
State Farm MVC Softball Championships next weekend in
Illinois State and UNI were to meet in the rubber match
news release received from Dustin Hall, Illinois State