TROY, Ala. - - The Ball State (1-0) softball team used a five-run fifth inning and the arm of senior pitcher Kim Mazzapica to score a 7-2 victory over East Tennessee State (0-5) in its opening game of the 2012 season at the Quality Inn Classic hosted by Troy University at the Troy Softball Complex.
Mazzapica retired the final 15 Bucs batters in order to pick up her first win of the 2012 season. In seven innings of work, she allowed just three hits and one earned run, while striking out a career-high five batters.
Sophomore slugger Jennifer Gilbert led the way with three RBI for the Cardinals, going 1-for-3 in the game with a two-run single and a sacrifice fly.
With a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the fifth, senior catcher Amanda Montalto moved into a tie for first place on BSU's all-time list with 39 career doubles. Montalto is also Ball State's career home run leader with 23 four-baggers.
The Cardinals started the day with four freshmen in the lineup, with Loren Cihlar and Taylor Cox each recording their first career hit and scoring a pair of runs. Cox went 2-for-2 on the day and also drew a walk and collected a RBI in her collegiate debut.
The Bucs opened the scoring in the top of the first when they were able to capitalize on a leadoff error which allowed Annie Martin to reach second. Four batters later, a bases loaded RBI single from Alex Everett gave ETSU a 1-0 lead. However, the Bucs would strand three runners thanks to an inning-ending strikeout from Mazzapica.
East Tennessee State extended its advantage to 2-0 with a leadoff home run down the left field line to open the second.
After being held hitless through the first four innings, the Cardinals bats came to life in the bottom of the fifth. After a one-out walk to freshman shortstop Jessica Craft, freshman right fielder Cihlar and freshman second baseman Cox tallied back-to-back hits to load the bases.
Junior center fielder Amanda Carpenter drew a RBI walk to bring Ball State back within one, while sophomore left fielder Gilbert followed with a two-run single up the middle to give BSU its first lead of the 2012 season at 3-2.
After a wild pitch put runners at second and third, an RBI groundout from sophomore first baseman Taylor Rager pushed the score to 4-2. Montalto followed with a two-out RBI double to drive home Gilbert and give BSU a 5-2 lead.
The Cardinals' bats remained hot in the bottom of the sixth, as they tacked on two more runs to pull ahead 7-2. Cihlar drew a one out walk and stole second to get into scoring position, while Cox followed with a RBI single up the middle pushing the score to 6-2. A single from Carpenter put runners on the corners, which allowed Gilbert to drive a sacrifice fly to right center for BSU's final run of the frame.
Shelby Morris picked up the loss for East Tennessee State, as she allowed five runs and four hits in 4.2 innings of work. All four hits and five runs came after she retired the first batter of the bottom half of the fifth inning. Morris also surrendered five walks.
The Ball State softball team continues play in the 2012 Quality Inn Classic later this afternoon, when it faces No. 5/6 Missouri in a scheduled 2 p.m. (CT) start at the Troy Softball Complex.