SIU softball senior Shaye Harre will soon graduate, taking with her a .325 batting average and 47 career doubles.
She’s a hitting machine.
But Saluki head coach Kerri Blaylock is a bit more sanguine about that loss after freshman Kate Massa put on a display during the Dawgs’ final regular season games: a 5-0 win, a 10-2 run-rule victory and a 3-2 Sunday win over the Missouri State Bears.
“We really need someone to replace Shaye when she’s gone,” said Blaylock after her team swept a double-header Saturday. “Katlyn is really coming into her own.”
In game one, Massa pretty much did most of the damage.
In the second inning, Massa hit a blast to make it 1-0 Dawgs. Things settled down after that blast until the fourth, when Massa led off with
However, this time Massa’s teammates followed her lead. After the Massa dinger, Maddy Vermejan singled. Haley Andrus attempted to give the Bears an out by sacrificing Vermejan to second, but the MSU fielder refused the offer, booting the ball to put runners at second and first.
Those two base runners were finally sacrificed to second and third by Savanna Fisher.
Erika Brandenburg made the Bears pay for their error by cracking a triple down the right field line, scoring two to put the Salukis up 4-0
Mary Anne Patterson finished off scoring in the inning by blooping a single to center, making it 5-0 Dawgs.
Saluki starting pitcher Brianna Jones, a sophomore, won this one by being brilliant the whole game.
“She (Jones) had a very consistent performance,” said Blaylock.
Jones’ shutout was her fifth of the season and 15th of her career. In this one, she allowed only two hits and one base runner to get to second base in the first four innings.
Looking at the fact SIU run-ruled the Bears in the second game (10-2 Saluki win), one would think the game was a laugher. One would be wrong.
Indeed, the Dawgs led by only one run (3-2) through four and one half innings.
MSU initially led SIU by scoring two runs in the bottom of the second inning. But that lead by the Bears was short-lived.
In the bottom of the second inning, Missouri State’s fielders gave SIU three runs by committing three errors. Those errors, along with just one Saluki hit, put the Dawgs up 3-2. It stayed that way until the fifth.
In that inning, SIU’s Savannah Fisher led off with a double to
right-center. Susie Baranski bunted for a hit to give the Salukis runners at the corners. Harre tried to give the Bears a sure out again by lining a rocket to the second baseman. The MSU fielder was handcuffed, and then the Bears muffed a throw, giving them two errors on the play, and giving the Dawgs two more runs.
Sydney Jones hit a three-run homer (8-2 SIU lead) to set up the run rule in the sixth when Harre’s two-run double gave the Dawgs their ninth and tenth runs.
In Sunday’s sweep, the Dawgs had a bit more trouble with the Bears. SIU jumped ahead in the third inning off a two-run homer by Sydney Jones.
After MSU came back with a run in the fourth inning, and one in the fifth to tie it at 2-2, SIU’s Brandenberg won the third game with a run home run shot off the foul pole.
Now it’s off to Normal for the three-day MVC Softball Tournament. SIU will be the third seed and will play this coming Friday against either Drake or MSU. Those two teams play an elimination game Thursday. SIU swept both teams in regular season play.