A sunny, 60-degree opening day of the Jacksonville State Invitational ended in two victories for the SIU softball team Friday, but the next two days ended in a loss and a cancelled game because of bad weather.
The Salukis (4-2) totaled 17 hits, including four home runs Friday, and drew 10 walks in only 12 innings of play by junior starting pitcher Brittney Lang and backup freshman Katie Bertelsen when they defeated Jacksonville State 10-9 and Southeastern Louisiana in a five-inning, run-rule victory 11-3, when the game ends after a certain inning, usually the 5th, if the other team is ahead by a certain number of runs. The Salukis fell short to the South Alabama Jaguars Saturday in a 16-0 loss.
Coach Kerri Blaylock said the first day of the tournament showed how focused and prepared her team was, and she said she was satisfied by the team’s offense and defense.
“We realize we have some young pitchers on the mound, and even with Brittney as far as experience-wise, I think her and Katie threw well in their games but I’m just pleased that our offense picked us up and was able to hang in there because Jacksonville State is a tough team,” Blaylock said, according to the Saluki Athletics website.
There was a different outcome for the Salukis Saturday, with a first-run rule defeat of the season to South Alabama. Blaylock said it was humiliating how the Jaguars dominated the game.
“It’s embarrassing to lose by that score, and I think that it could be misconstrued that it was our pitching but I think it started out as passed balls, wild pitches and things of that nature,” Blaylock said.
Blaylock said South Alabama came ready to play and was the better team.
“I have to give credit to South Alabama — they really handed it to us,” Blaylock said.
Blaylock said it’s difficult to stomach a tough loss like that, but she reassured the players and boosted their confidence after Saturday’s game. She said it’s early in the season as the team is only six games into a 56-game season.
“I feel like the (girls) are fighters, and I feel like we know what we need to work on to get better for the next match up,” Blaylock said.
Senior outfielder Mallory Duran-Sellers said the team came out strong and ready to play the first day, but on the second day the team didn’t play its best offensive or defensive game. She said the team looked forward to Sunday’s game, but it was cancelled because of rainfall.
Duran-Sellers said team has to go into practice this week with a loss in mind and work hard to avoid future situations similar to Saturday.
Senior shortstop Haley Gorman said consistency is key for SIU’s success. She said the team has to treat every game as if it’s the last one.
“On Friday we played really well, but on Saturday we hit a bump,” Gorman said. “We didn’t really figure out to get over it and didn’t show who we really were.”
Gorman said the only way to correct all of the mistakes is to practice hard this week.
Duran-Sellers said it’s a good to get a tough loss early in the season because it gives the team the opportunity to fix any errors and forbid any further errors during the rest of the season.
The Salukis will return to the court Thursday when they travel to the Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla.