The Bradley (4-6 in the MVC) softball team battled at Indiana State (5-6 in the MVC) this past weekend and took two of three.
On Saturday, Bradley swept a Missouri Valley road doubleheader for the first time since the 2016 season. The first game was dominated by both team’s starters until the eighth inning. Junior pitcher Megan Mahaffy earned the win by throwing eight one-run innings.
Indiana State’s starter Kylie Stober held Bradley to one hit through the first five frames until freshman outfielder Stacia Seeton connected for a solo home run to knot the contest at 1-1. Head coach Amy Hayes said she was impressed with Stober and happy that the Braves’ bats heated up following Seeton’s homer.
“Stober is crafty although she does not throw as hard as you think,” Hayes said. “She has pretty decent movement on her pitches. [Our hitters] made adjustments, but I would have wanted to make them a little sooner.”
Seeton said she is excited to be such a big part of the team as a freshman.
“It means a lot being a freshman and contributing to the team’s success,” Seeton said. “It is great that the underclassmen can help produce just as many runs as the upperclassmen. We have a lot of team chemistry and everyone plays well together.”
Seeton batted fourth the entire series and went 6-11. Hayes has been impressed by the freshman class of Seeton, Jillian Navarro and Taise Thompson. This weekend the newcomers collected 11 RBI.
“Our freshman are doing a tremendous job for us,” Hayes said. “They just come in and compete. Their energy is a little different from our veterans. It is a nice punch for us to have. Stacia just got up there [the first game of the series], tied it up and away we went.”
Seeton said she is focused on staying mentally consistent and trusts her preparation in practice come game time.
“When I go up to bat, I don’t think too much,” Seeton said. “I go up there and just do my job.”
Mahaffy pitched out of difficult high leverage situations the entire series. In the opener, Bradley made six errors but she kept battling. Hayes said she was happy with Mahaffy and Kestas’ pitching performances in the absence of third starter Emma Jackson due to injury.
“Megan always wants the ball and is a bulldog on the mound,” Hayes said. “It was a lot to ask for her to get through a team three times in two days, but she did well.”
The teams went on to play an inning of bonus softball tied at 1. Bradley rallied for four runs in the eighth inning to take the lead 5-1. Indiana State threatened with runners on second and third and one out, but Mahaffy ended the game with two groundouts. The Braves won the game 5-2.
In the later game the Braves’ bats stayed hot, scoring five runs in the first three innings. Bradley had 11 hits to the Sycamores’ five leading to a 5-4 victory.
With Kestas in the circle, Bradley tightened up their defense by only suffering two errors. Hayes said that by locking in defensively, the team will continue their success.
“This weekend we showed improvement because if we had an error, we did not make another one right after,” Hayes said. “In order to keep this up, we need to give our defense a lot of reps so they can be more confident situationally and know where to take the ball.”
Bradley looked to complete the series sweep Sunday and scored five runs in the top of the third inning. Indiana State responded immediately with five of their own in the bottom half. The Sycamores salvaged the final game by a score of 6-5, although only two of their runs were earned due to Bradley’s two errors.
Overall, Hayes said that the weekend was a productive one for the team.
“We are happy to get out of there with the series win,” Hayes said. “We had the sweep in our hands but let it go. We still need to be more consistent defensively, and the weather has been adding to our struggles.”
Bradley played Southern Illinois Edwardsville in a midweek game on Wednesday and fell 4-3. Freshman Taise Thompson picked up the loss in relief. It was Thompson’s first pitching appearance in her collegiate career.
The Braves play a three game series on the road for a third straight week at Missouri State in Springfield, with first pitch of the doubleheader scheduled for noon tomorrow.