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SIU softball fighting for third seed in MVC Tourney

 
By Chris Barron
Contributing Writer
Posted on 5/5/2018, 8:59 PM

The top two seeds in in the May 10 to 12 Missouri Valley Softball Tournament have been determined without figuring in this weekend's wins and losses.

Drake University is 21-1, and no matter if they drop three in a row, they will still be no. 1. And Missouri State will be the no. 2 seed at 17-5, even if they get swept.

But positions 3 to 10 are yet to be decided. SIU currently is in third place at 10-11 and will stay there for sure if the Salukis sweep third-place UNI (10-12), but Valparaiso and Illinois State are also 10-12.

In fact, Evansville at 7-15 is still mathematically a possible third seed if they sweep and everybody above them falters. Exciting? More like a possible mathematical car wreck for whoever has to figure tie-breakers.

What SIU has to do is take care of business and not worry about mathematically determined, alternate futures. That's what the Salukis did last weekend when they let it all fly and swept Evansville at their place, 1-0, 5-3 and 8-5, thus helping them determine their own future.

The series involved the Lady Dawgs in some exciting grind-out contests, and always in the mix each game were the Jones girls -- pitcher Brianna and slugger Sydney.

The Dawgs grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the getaway Sunday game as Susie Baranski and Maddy Vermejan opened the contest with back-to-back singles.

Two batters later, slugger Katelyn Massa was given a pass to load up the bases for Sydney Jones. She promptly doubled to drive in Vermejan and freshman pinch runner Jenny Jansen (2-0 SIU).

A single by Maris Boelens scored Jones and Massa, making it 4-0 Salukis in the top of the first. Evansville responded with one in the bottom of the inning, but Massa's sac fly in the top of the second made it 5-1 SIU.

The differential got up to six (7-1 SIU lead) when Kyleigh Decker went long, driving in Savannah Fisher. Southern won both games of a long double dip Saturday.

The Dawgs and the Aces tussled for 16 innings in a pitchers duel in which SIU hurler Brianna Jones and Evansville's Morgan Florey incredibly both went the distance, striking out 46 total batters to break an NCAA record for one game.

Jones set a school record of 20 strikeouts in one contest. SIU small-balled the Aces to win the game in the top of the 16th.

A bunt single by Baranski was followed by an Evansville error that allowed Baranski to score all the way from first for the 1-0 win.

The 8-5 second game win for the Dawgs wasn't in the books until late. A rally pushed the Salukis into the lead for good (5-3 SIU). SIU pitcher Savannah Dover was steady, if not as spectacular, as Jones.

"I told Savannah to not worry about one inning (in which she gave up three runs early in the game)," SIU coach Kerry Blaylock said. "So she refocused and finished the game strong."

The Dawgs have won four of their last five and hope that positive momentum carries into this weekend's games with UNI.