A slow start for the Salukis led to strong finishes in the two-game conference series Tuesday against Evansville University.
After six slow-moving innings in the first game at Charlotte West Stadium, the Salukis (27-12, 12-4 Missouri Valley
Conference) managed to come from behind with a 3-1 victory. The team then clinched the series in game two with a 9-1 win against Evansville (11-28, 4-13 MVC). The Salukis hold the all-time series record (55-20) against the Aces and have won every series since 2002, but they haven’t taken a complete three-game sweep since 2007. The Salukis won the series 2-1 during the 2011 season when they split games in Evansville.
Coach Kerri Blaylock said the pressure was released in game two with a come-from-behind win in game one. She said game one’s win boosted the team’s motivation to go out on the field and give everything for another win.
“We have come from behind so much this year from a lot of runs,” Blaylock said. “We were getting behind multiple times in the beginning of the year, but I told the girls to relax and go out there and do what they know how to do.”
Blaylock said the struggles may have come from a majority of her team being young and lacking understanding in certain parts of the game, but she said the win in the first game carried over into the second game.
The Salukis struggled offensively in game one against the Aces’ junior pitcher Sarah Patterson, who ranks ninth in the MVC, with 82 strikeouts in 110.2 innings of work, according to the Salukis’ scouting report. In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Salukis scored their first run by senior centerfielder Mallory Duran-Sellers from a base-run hit by sophomore Kelsea Ashton to tie the game. It was senior shortstop Haley Gorman’s base hit that brought two Salukis in to score and win game one.
Ashton said the sluggish start brought about the team’s momentum after it finally scored its runs. She said she saw a massive change in the team’s offense.
“Our bats finally opened up, and we started to hit a lot more balls,” Ashton said. “From that point, we knew what we had to continue to do to win the game.”
Sophomore infielder Taylor Orsburn, who jumpstarted game two with the only home run for the Salukis, said everything flowed together to get another conference win. She said this could mean good things for the team’s future in the MVC Championship matchups, but one game at a time.
“This was a huge win for the team,” Orsburn said. “It was great that we came out pulled away in the end.”
The Salukis will be back in action at 4 p.m. Thursday in a non-conference game against Eastern Illinois at the Charlotte West Stadium.