Sophomore Laura Canopy was the catalyst for ISU (35-21)
offensively, as she finished the day 3 for 4 with two three-run
homers and an RBI double to tie the Valley record for RBIs in a
conference tournament title game with seven. Junior Jhavon Hamilton
drove in four runs with a three-run homer and a sacrifice fly, while
fellow junior Lauren Kellar went 3 for 5 with an RBI and two runs
Senior pitcher Jordan Birch won her 23rd game of the year, allowing
three runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts around three walks. The
Monroe, Wash., native was named the State Farm MVC Softball
Championship's Most Valuable Player, after going 2-0 in the circle
and allowing just four runs in 14 innings.
Illinois State jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the bottom of the
first. Kellar started the rally with a one-out single, and senior Liz
Andrews was hit by a pitch before junior Elizabeth Kay singled up
the middle for the game's first run and chased SIU starter Brittney
Lang after just one-third of an inning. On the very next pitch, Canopy hit the
first of her three-run homers off Saluki reliever Katie Bertelsen.
Southern Illinois got a run back in the top of the second to cut the
lead to 4-1, when Meredith Wilson doubled to right center and drove
in Hayley Gorman, who singled earlier in the frame.
The Redbirds responded by putting up five more runs in the bottom of
the second to extend the advantage to 9-1. Sophomore Kolby Hoffman
tripled to right to open the inning, and freshman Lindsey Greene
followed with a single to put runners on the corners with no outs.
Hamilton flied out to deep center, allowing Hoffman to tag and score
from third, and Kellar singled to center to plate Greene. Following
Kellar's single, Alyssa Wunderlich took over for Bertelsen inside
the circle and walked Andrews, before Canopy cleared the fences for
the second time, driving in three more runs.
[to top of second column]
ISU continued its offensive onslaught in the bottom of the
third, scoring four more runs on five more hits. Hoffman and
Greene started the inning with a single and a walk, before
Hamilton cleared the bases with a three-run blast to deep right.
Canopy drove in her seventh run of the game later in the inning,
with an RBI double to right to push Illinois State's lead to
Neither team would score again until the top of the seventh,
when the Salukis plated a pair of runs on back-to-back RBI
singles by Gorman and Jayna Spivey to make the final tally
The NCAA tournament berth is the third straight for ISU, marking
the first time in program history that the Redbirds have made
three consecutive trips to the tournament.
Illinois State was to find out Sunday evening at 9 where it will be going for the NCAA
tournament. The tournament field is revealed on the NCAA Division I Softball
Championship Selection Show, broadcast on ESPNU.
news release received from Dustin Hall, Illinois State