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Braves swept at Southern Illinois, look to bounce back this weekend

Bradley freshman Avry Blume runs the bases. Photo courtesy Bradley Athletics.

Bradley (9-10) lost all three contests this weekend against Southern Illinois (23-5), dropping the final game 10-2 in five innings. 

The Braves scored just four runs through the three games, but getting on base was not the problem. In fact, Bradley outhit the Salukis in game two on Friday 8-6. 

“We just didn’t get the timely hit,” Bradley head coach Amy Hayes said. “Taise [Thompson] took one to the wall and they were playing on the warning track. I don’t look at it to dwell on it, we’re just going to keep doing what we do and keep swinging.”

Junior Stacia Seeton collected four hits on the weekend, followed closely by fellow junior Taise Thompson and sophomore Lucy Mead with three apiece. Freshman Avry Blume clubbed a home run over the left field wall in game one, her first of the season.

In addition to her three hits, Thompson also commanded an inning in the circle in game two on Friday. She gave up two hits and walked two, but the junior has embraced her relief role that Hayes has placed on her year after year. 

“I love it,” Thompson said. “I go up there and I’m like, ‘I’m about to strike her out. You’re going to sit down, I’m going to throw this ball by you, and you’re going to be embarrassed.’ That’s me when I get up there.”

Thompson’s leadership in the circle has been much needed this year for a young pitching staff with a combined ERA of 4.06. Thompson has thrown 21.1 innings, striking out 20 and only giving up six earned runs for an ERA in tune to 1.97. She currently holds the eighth lowest ERA in the Valley.

Second and ninth are Madison Hunsaker and Steffany Dickerson, respectively, the aces in the circle for Missouri State. The 16-10 Bears are 7-1 in conference play and fresh off an 8-3 loss versus Kansas City. The Bears’ pitching staff can control a game from the circle, but can cause trouble on the basepaths as well.

“[Missouri State] runs a lot,” Hayes said. “We’ve done a few things to make sure we’re prepared for that and not to be caught off guard by anything and not to get lulled into not paying attention.”

The Bears can run all they want, but Blume and Jordy van der Werf behind the plate have both caught four runners stealing this year. They have allowed a combined three passed balls and three errors between them. 

Hayes said not to be surprised if van der Werf gets a start this weekend behind the plate.

Bradley will have their hands full this weekend with the Bears. However, they’ve been in this situation before.

“We just have to keep everything under control,” Thompson said. “Sometimes we get a little too frantic and things start moving faster and that’s when things start going downhill for us. But, when we play at our pace and we take our time, that’s when we play really well.”

Thompson and the Braves will look to end their four game skid this weekend, with the first chance coming on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. and can be found on ESPN3. 

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