The Bradley softball team struggled at the plate last weekend in its first home series of the year, dropping two out of three games against Missouri State.
In the first two games of the series, Bradley failed to put a run on the board as they lost 4-0 and 5-0.
“I think it was a little bit of a bummer to come out the way we did on Saturday, you know, but there was a lot that was new for us,” head coach Amy Hayes said. “I think at the end of the day, we have to keep controlling what we can control and play our game.”
Junior catcher Maria Schroeder continued to be a force for the Braves as she handled the pitching staff and went 6-10 at the plate during the series.
“What helps Maria out a lot is just her demeanor,” Hayes said. “Not a lot bothers her or gets under her skin, and she is able to stay kind of quiet in her mind and make the adjustments she needs to make. She really doesn’t worry about results; she’s very good at working one pitch at a time.”
Sophomore Julie Kestas started games two and three in the circle. In game two, Kestas pitched well despite not getting any run support. But in game three, Kestas said she and Schroeder made the necessary adjustments to keep the Bears’ hitters off balance.
“From game two to three, Schroeder and I had more of an idea of what Missouri State’s tendencies were,” Kestas said. “We noticed that they were definitely aggressive hitters so constantly changing zones was going to be very important for game. For strong and aggressive teams, it is crucial to keep hitters off [their] timing and to mix speeds often. Maria called a great game and really worked with what was effective for me.”
Bradley’s bats came alive in game three as the Braves outscored the Bears 9-1. With the game tied at one in the bottom of the fourth inning and the bases loaded, Hayes called for freshman Kealia Wysocki to pinch hit. Wysocki stepped up to the plate and drilled a grand slam, her second pinch-hit homer of the season, to put the Braves ahead for good.
“[Wysocki] makes me look like a rock-star,” Hayes said. “She just got a good pitch and stayed on-line and drove it out. For a freshman, I think that’s good for her confidence. It’s hard sometimes as a freshman because your numbers aren’t that great but you have to just keep trusting the process and some of that is starting to pay off for her now.”
The Braves also took on Southern Illinois Edwardsville Tuesday in a non-conference game. Bradley’s bats were quieted by Cougars pitcher Haley Chambers, who tossed a complete game and only allowed three hits.
“We didn’t move forward at all and that’s the disappointing thing.” Hayes said. “It’s not so much the loss, it’s just we didn’t move forward. Sometimes we’re looking ahead instead of looking at what’s in front of us, but we’ve got to turn the page at this point and fix what didn’t work and get ready for Wichita State.”
The Braves will play at home this weekend as they take on Wichita State in a doubleheader Saturday starting at 11 a.m. The series will conclude on Sunday at 11 a.m.
“Wichita State is a high intensity team and plays well with adrenaline,” Kestas said. “This weekend, you can definitely plan to see two very talented and hungry teams battling it out on the diamond.”