ORLANDO – The Illinois State softball team (10-8) opened play at the Disney Citrus Classic with two impressive offensive performances, topping LIU Brooklyn, 17-0, and Georgetown, 8-2, Friday afternoon at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. The two victories make it four straight for the Redbirds, which ties a season-best.
ISU’s 17-run offensive output against the Blackbirds was the third-best in program history, and highest since tallying 19 against Ball State on March 8, 1991. The 17-run margin of victory is the highest dating back to 1978, which is when the program’s year-by-year results date back to.
Every starter scored at least one run on the day. Seniors Lauren Kellar and Elizabeth Kay sparked the offense, as Kellar went a combined 4-for-6 with five runs scored and two RBI, while Kay’s two-run homer in the first inning of game one began a 4-for-7, four RBI day. Junior Laura Canopy continued to be ISU’s best run-producer, picking up 7 RBI in the two games, including her second grand slam in ISU’s last four contests. She now has 18 RBI in the Redbirds’ last eight games.
Taylor Baxter tossed her second shutout of the season in the win over the Blackbirds, while Regan Romshek allowed just one earned run and Sophia Perez threw 3.0 innings of scoreless relief against the Hoyas to earn her first win of the season.
Illinois State 17, LIU Brooklyn 0
The Redbirds scored multiple runs in each of the first three innings against the Blackbirds. Kaystarted the scoring with a two-run homer to left field in the first inning against LIU starter Cassie Vondrak (LP, 2-8), her team-leading fourth of the season, to give ISU an early 2-0 lead.
The Redbirds followed with six runs in the top of the second inning. Singles from Kolby Hoffman and Kellar started the inning, with Hoffman scoring and Kellar advancing to third on a wild pitch. Jhavon Hamilton and Kaywalked to load the bases, and begin a stretch of five-straight at bats with the bags packed. Shelby Music was hit by a pitch to score Kellar, Sara Bradley singled sharply to the shortstop, plating Hamilton, and Nichelle Harrison drove home Kay with a single to right to make it 6-0 Redbirds. After Brittny Drish grounded into a fielder’s choice, Hoffman singled through the right side to bring home Bradley and Harrison, giving ISU an 8-0 advantage.
After Baxter(WP, 5-2) worked around two singles in the top of the third, the Redbirds finished their scoring with nine runs in the bottom half of the frame, their most in a single at bat this season. After Hamilton popped out to begin the inning, six-straight Redbirds reached, with Music scoring Laura Canopy on a double, Kay scoring on an error, and Drish picking up a RBI walk to make it 11-0 ISU. After Hoffman lined out to the pitcher, Kellar brought home two more with a single to left center, before Hamilton walked for the third time to load the bases for Canopy. Canopy took Heather White’s 2-1 pitch over the fence in right center field for the second grand slam of her career, giving the Redbirds a 17-0 advantage.
Baxter scatted four hits over 5.0 innings, striking out two and walking one. She has not allowed an earned run in her last 13.0 innings, and has thrown 12.2-straight scoreless innings.
Illinois State 8, Georgetown 2
After shutting out their previous two opponents, ISU needed to come from behind against the Hoyas. With the score tied 2-2 in the fifth inning, the Redbirds seized control with four runs in the fifth and two in the sixth.
Hoffman walked and Kellar singled to begin the fifth inning against Megan Hyson (LP, 1-6), before Hamilton flew out. Canopy walked to load the bases for Kay, who singled up the middle to give ISU a 4-2 lead. Two batters later, Kay and Canopy scored on a hit by Bradley up the middle, making it a 6-2 advantage for ISU.
The Redbirds tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the sixth inning. Hoffman and Kellar again combined to get the offense started, as Hoffman walked before Kellar hit an infield single, with each advancing a base on a throwing error by the GU second baseman. Hamilton reached first on a fielder’s choice back to Hyson, who threw to third in an attempt to get Hoffman out, to load the bases. Canopy followed with a two-RBI single to center that scored Hoffman and Kellar and rounded out the game’s scoring.
Romshek allowed just one unearned run through the first four innings, before allowing a double and RBI single that tied the game at 2-2 to begin the fifth inning. Perez (WP, 1-0) relieved Romshek, and struck out the next three batters to keep the game tied before the ISU offense took over in the bottom half of the frame. The sophomore struck out six overall, allowing just one hit and one walk to earn her first win since April 28 of last season.
The Hoyas began the scoring in the top of the third inning when Jordan Hansen scored on an error by Hoffman. ISU took the lead in the bottom half of the frame. With Kellar on second and Drish on third and one out, Canopy legged out in infield single to the shortstop. Drish scored on the single, while a throwing error on the play allowed Kellar to race around third and give the Redbirds a 2-1 lead.
The Redbirds continue play at the Disney Citrus Classic with two more games Saturday. ISU takes on No. 5/9 Texas A&M at 11:15 a.m., CST, before facing James Madison at 3:45 p.m., CST.