Illinois State Softball Rolls to Wins over Penn State & Vermont
Becca Baltikas was 4-for-5 Saturday with four runs scored and two RBI
Becca Baltikas was 4-for-5 Saturday with four runs scored and two RBI

March 8, 2009

STANFORD, Calif. - Another day, another great pitching performance by Redbird freshman pitcher Jordan Birch (5-3), as she recorded her fifth-straight win in the circle for the Illinois State softball team (9-8) during the Redbirds' 5-4 win over Penn State Saturday at the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic at Smith Family Stadium in Stanford, Calif. In the nightcap against Vermont, Abby Olson went 4-for-5 with five RBI to lead Illinois State to a 14-0 rout of the Catamounts.

The Redbirds' two wins on the day were sparked by stellar hitting from several players, including freshman Becca Baltikas, who went 4-for-5 with four runs scored and two RBI. Also strong at the plate was Jessie Buker, who finished the day 4-for-6 with a home run and three runs scored.

In the circle, Birch improved to a team-best 5-3 on the season after pitching 6 2/3 innings in the win over Penn State. She surrendered three earned runs on five hits and struck out nine.

Freshman Megan Warner improved to 2-0 after throwing a two-hitter in the 14-0 win over Vermont.

RECAP: Illinois State 5, Penn State 4 | Box Score
A series of sloppy plays by Penn State allowed Illinois State to score three runs in the bottom of the second inning. After left fielder Jessie Buker reached on a two-out double, the Nittany Lions completed a slew of mental and physical mistakes, with two wild pitches, and two passed balls that allowed Buker to score. Penn State then induced what should have been an inning-ending strikeout to second baseman Kara Nelson, but the ball got past the Nittany Lions' catcher, which extended the inning for the Redbirds and placed runners on first and third for ISU.

 

 

Illinois State capped off its big second inning with a two-out, two-RBI double by Niki Stansell to take a 3-0 lead.

ISU capitalized on another Penn State pitcher-catcher miscue when a passed ball by Penn State replacement catcher Danee Collett allowed pinch runner Jessica Roche to score from third base and put the Redbirds up, 4-0.

After trailing for the first five innings, Penn State finally got to Birch, as a three-run home run in the top of the sixth inning by Sam Havonec cut the Redbird lead to 4-3. Those three runs scored off Birch ended her streak of 19-straight innings without giving up a run.

Illinois State padded its lead in the bottom of the sixth off a two-out RBI single up the middle by the hot-hitting Casey Gorrell that scored Baltikas from second base. Penn State put a scare into the Redbirds with a two-out RBI single in the top of the seventh that drove Birch out of the game, but reliever Amber Smith was able to get the final out for ISU and secure the 5-4 victory.

RECAP: Illinois State 14, Vermont 0 | Box Score
Illinois State came out of the gates scoring in bunches in the top of the second inning. The Redbirds plated seven runs in the frame thanks to a solo home run by Buker, a three-run shot by Olson and a slew of fielding mistakes by Vermont that gave the Redbirds a total of seven runs scored before the Catamounts had even made their second plate appearance in the game.

Smith added to ISU's lead in the third with a two-out, two-RBI single down the third0base line that scored both Buker and Baltikas as the Redbird lead was extended to 9-0. One inning later, another two-out RBI by Illinois State - this one by Baltikas - gave Illinois State a 10-0 advantage over the Catamounts.

Illinois State finished off its scoring onslaught with four more runs scored in the top of the fifth inning off of two-out RBI singles by Olson, pinch hitter Caiti Kopp and Baltikas.

Illinois State will conclude play at the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic at 5:45 p.m. CT Sunday against UC-Davis. Following that game, the Redbirds will travel to San Jose, Calif., for a Tuesday doubleheader against San Jose State.

GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, TRC gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.