CLEARWATER, Fla. (March 6, 2011) - Ball State's Audra Sanders tossed a four-hit shutout and Audrey Bickel drove in a pair of runs with double to center in the sixth, and the Cardinals went on to blank the ETSU softball team, 5-0, Sunday afternoon in the final game of the USF Under Armour Invitational.
The Bucs - who had chances to score in three of the first four innings - left five runners on base for the game; however, sophomore infielder Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) hit safely in her last four games in Florida after recording a one-out single in the fourth. Despite picking up the loss on Sunday, senior Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.) pitched solid this weekend as she registered a 1.40 ERA (4ER/20.0IP) in three starts and struck out 15 batters.
With the loss, ETSU saw its record drop to 4-12, while Ball State - the preseason favorite in the Mid-American Conference - improved to 9-5 on the year.
Duncan retired six of the first eight Ball State hitters she faced to start the game, but the Cardinals scored two runs on only one hit in the top of the third to take a 2-0 advantage. Control issues haunted Duncan early in the frame as she walked two of the first three hitters, but with two outs and runners on first and second, Jennifer Gilbert plated the first run of the game with an RBI double to left-center. Ball State scored its second run of the inning on an error by Marlina Delisa (Tucson, Ariz.) in right to make it a two-run contest.
After the Blue and Gold left runners stranded in scoring position in the second, third and fourth innings, the Cardinals made ETSU pay by scoring two runs on Bickel's double in the sixth - putting Ball State up, 4-0.
Sanders retired the last 11 ETSU hitters and Ball State scored its final run in the seventh, making it a 5-0 final.
Duncan's record dipped to 2-5 on the year after allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits in six innings of work, while Sanders recorded six strikeouts and improved to 5-3 after tossing the shutout.
ETSU finally returns home after playing their first 16 games of the season away from Johnson City as the Blue and Gold host the inaugural Buccaneer Softball Challenge this upcoming weekend. The Bucs will host Pittsburgh, St. Bonaventure, North Carolina A&T and South Carolina State, beginning Friday, March 11 with Pittsburgh taking on South Carolina State at 9:30 a.m. ETSU makes its home debut at 2 p.m. Friday when the Bucs face North Carolina A&T.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.