Redbirds Drop First Game in Arizona, 5-3, to Radford
Sophomore third baseman Kara Nelson
Sophomore third baseman Kara Nelson

Feb. 22, 2008

Box Score

TEMPE, Ariz. - Despite a solid hitting performance by sophomore all-American third baseman Kara Nelson, who recorded her third extra-base hit of the season, the Illinois State softball team (4-7) lost its first game of the Littlewood Classic at Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., Friday afternoon to Radford (7-1), 5-3. The Redbirds were held to just three hits in the game, the fourth time this season that ISU has been held to three-or-fewer hits in a game.

Nelson was ISU's lone hitter to record more than one hit in the game, as the Moline, Ill., native went 2-for-3 at the plate and picked up her fourth RBI of 2008. ISU's third hit in the game came from sophomore Diciembre Vaca, who was 1-for-3 with a single in her sixth-career start at shortstop.

After coming in to pitch in relief for starter Amy Mitchell with two runners on base and no outs in the top of the second inning, junior Rachel Smith pitched six solid innings to earn a no-decision. Smith allowed just one run on three hits, along with four strikeouts.

Mitchell (2-2) picked up her second loss of the season after she gave up three runs, all earned, on four hits, in one full inning pitched.

"We started the game strong, both offensively and defensively, especially after getting out of the first inning without allowing a run," Illinois State head softball coach Melinda Fischer said. "After that first inning, we struggled with the bat, in terms of putting the ball in play, and with strikeouts. Kara (Nelson) had a great game for us, and Rachel (Smith) also did a good job in the circle."



Illinois State plated the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning, after Nelson led off the game with a single through the right side and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior right fielder Andrea Shifflet. A 10-plus-pitch at-bat by second baseman Tiffany Prager resulted in a walk for the Redbird captain, and then a Radford passed ball, followed by a deep sacrifice fly off the bat of first baseman Michelle Henderson scored Nelson, as ISU took a lead (1-0) into the second inning of a game for just the third time this season.

Radford fired back in the top of the second inning with four runs on three hits. A three-run home run with no outs by Hope Creasy capped off the Highlanders' four-run frame. Radford scored another run in the inning when Nelson was unable to cleanly field an attempted sacrifice bunt by Vicki Madden, which allowed Sarah Himan to score from third base.

The Highlanders added their final run of the game in the top of the third inning when a hard hit ground ball by Ashley Taylor bounced over the head of Prager at second base and rolled all the way to the right-center field wall to score Cassie Rhodes, who was on first base via a single earlier in the inning.

After Nelson's leadoff single in the bottom of the first inning, Radford's Rebecca Whalley set down 13-straight ISU batters until Diciembre Vaca broke the Redbird hitless streak with a single to right field with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. That set up ISU for a two-run inning. Sophomore center fielder Katie Thoennes reached base after she was hit by a pitch, and then a double by Nelson, her first of the season, was bobbled by the Highlander center fielder, which allowed both Vaca and Thoennes to score, as ISU cut the Radford lead to two runs (5-3).

After a brief break, Illinois State will return to action Friday with a matchup against tournament host No. 2/4 Arizona State. First pitch from Farrington Stadium is slated for 8:30 p.m. CST.