News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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March 21, 2014

Sycamore softball leaves too many runners stranded in one-run loss

ISU falls to Wichita State

BELLEVILLE, ILL. — Even though they never led in Missouri Valley Conference softball Friday at Price Field, there were several moments late in the game when victory almost seemed inevitable for the Indiana State Sycamores.

Didn’t happen. Visiting Wichita State made the defensive plays it needed to, and ISU suffered a frustrating 3-2 loss to open a three-game series.

“We left eight girls on,” coach Shane Bouman noted afterward, and the four who remained on base in the final two innings were what made the day so frustrating.

Trailing by that 3-2 score going into the bottom of the sixth, the Sycamores were in business immediately when Brooke Riemenschneider led off with a single.

Megan Stone then got a hit of her own when Wichita center fielder Ashley Johnson was unable to make a shoestring catch on her soft liner, then couldn’t get the ball to second in time to force Riemenschneider.

Rylee Holland was sent up to bunt as a pinch hitter, and all hands were safe when Shocker first baseman Cacy Williams threw late to third trying for the force (pretty much the only bad play all day for Williams). With none out and the bases loaded, however, the Sycamores twice grounded into force outs at the plate, then looked at a called third strike to end the inning.

Erika Crissman led off the bottom of the seventh with a line shot off the right-field fence for a double, putting the tying run in scoring position with the heart of the ISU lineup coming up. Wichita third baseman Ali Vandever made two stellar plays, however, including throwing out Kelsey Montgomery from her knees, and Williams dug a low throw out of the dirt for the game’s final out.

“To win, you’ve got to pitch good, you’ve got to play defense and you’ve got to get key hits,” Bouman said after the game. “We pitched very poorly, we didn’t get big hits and our defense gave away two runs.”

To come that close with such a subpar performance, therefore, was almost encouraging, the coach figured.

“As poorly as we played, we really competed,” Bouman added. “I’m excited to see how we bounce back [today, in a doubleheader beginning at noon].”

Friday’s game had originally been scheduled for Sunday, but — believe it or not — the weather then is not expected to be good. The Shockers were already going to be in Terre Haute so the game was switched and the two teams were rewarded by as good a weather as they’re likely to play in all spring (although the pitchers may not have appreciated the stiff wind blowing out).

Wichita got on the scoreboard in the top of the second, a rally started by a bad-hop single that sent ISU third baseman Shelby Wilson to the hospital for facial stitches. Three more hits and three stolen bases — Vandever and Williams getting the RBIs — finished Yvette Alvarez’s stint in the circle, but Halle Humphrey pitched her way out of trouble with two pitches: a missed squeeze attempt, Riemenschneider picking a runner off third, then a line drive to second baseman Aubre Carpenter.

ISU started its comeback in the bottom of the third when a hit by Carpenter, a bunt single by Crissman and a walk to Morgan Allee loaded the bases with one out. Riemenschneider’s soft fly was dropped by Johnson, Carpenter scoring while Allee was forced at second, but then the Sycamores had their own runner picked off third to end the inning.

Stone, at bat during the pickoff, led off the bottom of the fourth by lining an opposite-field homer — her third in as many MVC games — over the left-field fence, and the Sycamores got another runner in scoring position thanks to a single and stolen base by Alexa Cavin.

But Cavin was another runner stranded in scoring position, and the tie lasted just one pitch into the top of the fifth — the pitch that Williams launched over the center-field fence.

Wilson, incidentally, returned from her hospital stay to return to the lineup in the bottom of the sixth and wore a facemask when she returned to third in the top of the seventh.

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