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First conference clash brings road wins for Bradley softball

Camryn Schaller throws a pitch against Southern Illinois. Photo courtesy of Josh Schwam/Bradley Athletics

This past weekend, Bradley softball opened up conference play against Evansville with a series win against the Purple Aces on the backs of consecutive shutouts.

The first game of the doubleheader started with a solo home run at the top of the second inning by sophomore Abbott Badgley. Graduate Grace French was on the mound for five innings, striking out five and allowing three runs.

Evansville took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third on a fielder’s choice that scored a run and a sacrifice fly to right field. However, the Braves would respond right away in the top of the fourth with a two-run homer to right-center field from freshman Kierston McCoy, reclaiming BU’s lead at 3-2. That lead expired quickly as Evansville jabbed back at the bottom of the fourth with an RBI double to tie the game at three.

The series’ first game was deadlocked until the sixth inning when junior Jordy van der Werf was walked on a hard-fought at-bat with the bases loaded, giving the Braves a 4-3 lead. The Braves held the lead until the bottom of the seventh inning when Evansville tied the game 4-4 on another sacrifice fly.

The game went into extra innings, but the Purple Aces were able to complete the small comeback on a bases-loaded walk given up by junior pitcher Camryn Schaller that gave Evansville the 5-4 win in extras.

Bouncing back in the second game of the doubleheader, the Braves soundly defeated Evansville, shutting them out in an 8-0 win. Schaller earned her third win, only allowing four hits and throwing 11 strikeouts throughout six innings avenging her end to the game prior.

French crushed another ball for a two-run homer in the top of the third. Badgley also hit a solo home run in the top of the third, giving the Braves a 3-0 lead. The Braves poured it on in the top of the sixth inning, scoring four runs with help from the bats of sophomore Angela Cirone, McCoy, and freshman Austin Comstock. 

In the final game of the three-game series, the Braves took home another win, squeezing out a 2-0 victory. Schaller had another shutout performance on the mound, only allowing six hits throughout seven innings and striking out seven.

The Braves were greeted with clutch hitting from Cirone in the top of the first with an RBI single and Comstock adding another RBI single down the left-field line in the top of the sixth, helping the Braves walk away with a 2-1 conference record.

The Braves traveled to Champaign-Urbana this past Wednesday to battle the Fighting Illini but were defeated 5-1. Comstock and McCoy combined for four of Bradley’s five hits and both went 2-for-3 in the batter’s box.

The Braves are now 10-18 overall and 2-1 in conference ahead of their first series of the season at home against Murray State. The three-game set at the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex starts Friday and concludes with a doubleheader on Sunday.

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