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Softball splits with MVC-leading Bluejays

After splitting a doubleheader with Creighton last weekend, the softball team suffered a 4-1 loss to SIU-Edwardsville on Tuesday at home.
The loss dropped the Braves to 15-16, while SIU-E improved to 29-7 behind a solid pitching performance by Erika Taylor.
Taylor scattered four hits and struck out seven in a complete-game effort on the way to improving her record to 14-4 on the year.
Bradley sophomore Katie Dennis (3-6) picked up the loss for the Braves after working just one-plus innings, surrendering five hits and three earned runs. Junior Amanda Clack came on to pitch the remaining six frames for Bradley.
“I think Amanda is starting to get back on track.” Hayes said. “She has a world of talent, she just hasn’t had a lot of time in the circle. I think the more time she gets in there, the more confident she will be, which is good because we are going to look for her a lot next year.”
Clack gave up two hits and the final Cougar run, while striking out five.
“Coming off the trip to Creighton, I was really excited to see how our girls were going to turn the corner,” coach Amy Hayes said. “We just showed up for about three innings out of seven. They showed up for four.”
SIU-E started off the game with back-to-back singles by Courtney Mall and Kasey Schlafke, both of whom would come around to score in the inning after a sacrifice bunt and another single to put the Cougars up 2-0.
Dennis faced only one hitter in the second inning, but was pulled after giving up a homerun to Amanda Pucel. 
Schlafke rounded out the SIU-E scoring with a solo homerun to lead off the top of the fourth.
Taylor held the Braves hitless for three and two-thirds innings until Clack took her deep to left-center field for a double off the fence. However, she was stranded at second base, becoming the first of eight Bradley runners to be left on.
The Braves’ only run came on a solo homer by junior Jackie Vitale, which lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. The long-ball was Vitale’s fourth of the year, which ties her with Alycia Bachkora for the team lead.
Clack tried to spark another Bradley rally by following Vitale’s shot with a double, but was again stranded, this time after being moved to third by a sacrifice bunt.
Clack finished 2-for-3 in the game and improved her batting average to .263. Senior Miriam Wegmann’s .333 average leads the team.
Bradley’s split last weekend in Omaha, Neb., against league-leading Creighton moved BU into fifth place in the Missouri Valley Conference with a record of 6-4.
The Braves won the first game 1-0 after senior Ashley Birdsong was able to toss a complete-game shut out and improve her record to 9-6 on the year. Birdsong gave up only five hits while striking out 10 in her 13th complete game of the year.
Vitale was again partially responsible for Bradley’s only run in the game, as she drove in Clack on a pinch-hit single in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Bluejays rebounded in the second game of the day, holding the Braves scoreless on the way to picking up a 4-0 win.
Clack was in the circle for Bradley in the second game and she allowed just one hit in her first three innings of work, but was taken for four Creighton runs in the fourth.
“What we are trying to look for is a way for us to be a complete team.” Hayes said. “We need all 20 kids to get to our goal at the end of the season. When kids get their opportunity, we look for them to step up.”
The Braves were back in action against Illinois on Thursday at Champaign, but results were not available at press time.