TROY, Ala. - - Despite a solid all-around effort, the Ball State softball team fell one run short in its upset bid over No. 5/6 Missouri, falling to the Tigers 3-2 Friday in its second game of the 2012 Quality Inn Classic hosted by Troy University at the Troy Softball Complex.
Trailing 3-0 entering the seventh inning, Ball State (1-1) tallied a pair of one-out runs, only to have Missouri (1-0) pitcher Kristin Nottelmann strikeout the final two batters with bases loaded.
Ball State sophomore first baseman Taylor Rager led all batters, going a perfect 3-for-3 and drawing a walk. She was the only player on either squad to post multiple hits as both teams finished the contest with five. BSU also drew nine walks, including three from senior designated player/catcher Amanda Montalto.
In her first appearance of the season, senior right-handed pitcher Audrey Workman limited the potent Missouri offense to just five hits and three earned runs over six innings of work. She also recorded a strikeout while walking four batters.
Nottelmann was credited with the win after giving up five hits and two runs (one earned) in seven innings of work. She struck out seven batters and walked nine.
The Cardinals had chances to score in each of the first three innings, only to strand a pair of runners in all three. In the first, Rager hit a two-out single and Montalo drew a walk before an inning-ending fly out.
In the second, a walk by junior catcher Sadie Robertson and a single from freshman second baseman Taylor Cox gave BSU two base runners with one out, but a strikeout and an infield fly ended the threat.
Rager added another single in the third, while a two-out walk to third baseman Audrey Bickel put two runners on. This time a fielder's choice to third ended the rally.
After being held hitless in the first two innings, the Tigers found their bats in the bottom of the third scoring three runs on three hits to pull ahead 3-0. With one out and runners at first and second, a RBI double from Nicole Hudson opened the scoring.
Ashley Fleming followed with run-scoring single, while Kelsea Roth drew a bases loaded walk two batters later to push the score to 3-0. However, some strong defense from freshman shortstop Jessica Craft triggered an inning-ending double play.
In a pinch hit effort, freshman Loren Cihlar led off the sixth inning with a double, while Lauren Schroeder drew a pinch hit walk to put runners at first and second. Unfortunately, a double play and a strikeout ended the BSU rally.
After Workman retired the Tigers in order to close out the sixth, the Cardinals fought back in the top half of the seventh. Sophomore left fielder Jennifer Gilbert drew a one-out walk to start a rally, while Rager came up with her third single to put runners at first and second.
After Montalto drew a walk to load the bases, Bickel helped plate two runs when she reached base on an error by the Missouri center fielder which allowed both Gilbert and Rager to score, cutting the lead to 3-2. With runners at second and third, Craft drew a walk to load the bases once again. Unfortunately, Missouri's Nottelmann struck out the next two batters to end the BSU rally and the game.
Due to inclement weather forecasted to move into the Troy area Saturday, there has been a change to the remainder of the Quality Inn Classic schedule. Ball State will now open the second day of competition versus Nicholls State at 8:30 a.m. (CT) at the Troy Sportsplex.BSU will return to the Troy Softball Complex later in the morning for a scheduled 11 a.m. first pitch versus tournament host Troy. BSU's game versus Eastern Kentucky Sunday morning has been moved to an 8:30 a.m. start and will be played at the Troy Softball Complex.