With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the sixth, sophomore Kalyn Harker entered as a pinch-hitter and hit a single that drove in the game-winning run Tuesday in the final regular season home game at Charlotte West Stadium.
Sophomore second baseman Jayna Spivey and senior infielder Alicia Junker’s two runs in the top of the sixth inning broke the tie and gave SIU a 4-2 lead. Junior pitcher Brittney Lang helped secure the win when she pitched perfect innings both in the sixth and seventh innings.
The Salukis (33-16) finished their regular season home schedule with a 4-2 win against Murray State University (29-17). After the win against the Racers, the Salukis improved to a 6-1 record against Ohio Valley Conference teams this season, along with a 16-6 home record.
SIU jumpstarted its offense early in the bottom of the first when senior center fielder Mallory Duran-Sellers scored the Salukis’ first run off a bunt-single by sophomore infielder Taylor Orsburn. Two batters later, a base hit by freshman right fielder Meredith Wilson brought in the Salukis’ second run to give them a 2-0 lead.
Murray State responded with two unearned runs in the top of the fifth inning because of a poor throw from freshman right-hander Alyssa Wunderlich on a bunt from Murray State senior left fielder Megan Glosser.
Coach Kerri Blaylock said she changed pitchers three times because some of the pitchers didn’t feel well around the fifth inning. Freshman left-hander Katie Bertelsen started the game but left after she gave up a single and hit a batter in the top of the fifth.
“I asked Katie how she was feeling, and she didn’t feel quite too well, which is why I made the change in the fifth inning,” Blaylock said. “I thought we had great at bats early, and then I think we started to have some not so great at bats.”
Blaylock said Junker picked up the Salukis’ momentum offensively after she had a big hit in the bottom of the sixth to spark the two-run rally that decided the game.
“Alicia picked us up, no question about it,” Blaylock said.
Junker said she did her best when she stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the sixth. She said she knew anything could happen, and she went for a big hit.
“The big thing is that you start strong and don’t want to let up at all,” Junker said. “We kind of felt like our bats had let up a little bit, but we picked back up and finished the game strong.”
Duran-Sellers said she was happy to get a win against Murray State in their last regular-season home game on Rochman Field with seniors Haley Gorman and Junker. However, she said this isn’t quite the end for them because of Missouri Valley Conference playoff games to be played soon at Charlotte West Stadium.
“I don’t want to get too hooked in my emotions because the season isn’t over yet, and we still have a few MVC games to play here,” Duran-Sellers said. “I’m just glad we closed the game out the right way.”
The Salukis will be back in action 4 p.m. today when they travel to Champaign-Urbana to face the Fighting Illini at the University of Illinois.