For Immediate Release
Softball -- April 6, 2011
Jesse Solves Blackburn, Red Devils Sweep to 6-0
EUREKA, Ill. – Facing the top-scoring offense in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Eureka College junior pitcher Sarah Jesse (Mackinaw, Ill./Bloomington H.S.) allowed only one run over 14.0 innings pitched on Wednesday, earning the victory in both games of the Red Devils’ SLIAC sweep of Blackburn. The Red Devils blanked the Beavers in the opener, 4-0, before holding on for a 2-1 triumph in game two. The sweep gives Eureka sole possession of first place in the SLIAC.
In game one, the hosts plated a pair of runs in the second inning for an early lead. Freshman first baseman Amanda Murphy (Manteno, Ill./Manteno H.S.) started the rally with a leadoff infield single and later moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Murphy eventually scored on Jesse’s RBI groundout and the Red Devils made it 2-0 one batter later on an infield RBI single from freshman outfielder Caty Eeten (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S./Illinois Central).
The Red Devils (8-8, 6-0 SLIAC) kept the Beavers (11-9, 4-2 SLIAC) off the scoreboard and added to their lead with another two-run inning in the fourth. Sophomore outfielder Lauren Kao (Normal, Ill./Normal Community H.S.) singled to start the inning and later scored from second base when Blackburn third baseman Betty Calbreath misplayed Eeten’s infield single. Junior second baseman Tomi Tapper (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria H.S.) yanked an RBI single down the left field line two batters later to score Eeten and the lead was 4-0.
The offense was more than enough for Jesse, who fired her third career complete-game shutout. She allowed only three hits and struck out four through 7.0 innings. Eeten finished the opener 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Murphy also had a multi-hit game with a 2-for-3 effort.
Eureka broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning of the nightcap on Murphy’s RBI groundout that scored Tapper, who had started the inning with an infield single. Eeten added her first career sacrifice fly one inning later to score Kao from third for a 2-0 advantage. Blackburn finally got into the run column in the sixth inning. Ashley Gibson reached first on a bunt single to start the inning, stole second base and later scored two batters later on Grace Young’s sacrifice fly to trim the Blackburn deficit to 2-1. With the tying run at third base, Jesse coaxed a sharp lineout and a groundout to end the threat was Eureka’s lead intact.
The Beavers threatened one final time in the bottom of the seventh inning when Kariann Hill started the inning with a line drive single to left field. The Eureka defense shined moments later when freshman catcher Emily Campbell (Pontiac, Ill./Pontiac H.S.) erased the threat, throwing out Hill trying to steal second base for the first out of the inning. The Beavers put another runner on the basepaths later in the inning, but Jesse earned her second pitching victory of the day when pinch hitter Stevie Horrell grounded out for the final out of the afternoon.
Jesse scattered six hits and walked only one in the nightcap to earn her second victory of the day. She now owns four of Eureka’s six SLIAC pitching victories and lowered her SLIAC earned run average to 0.78 over 27.0 innings pitched. Blackburn entered the afternoon with a SLIAC-best team batting average of .367, but Jesse limited the Beavers to a .209 average (9-for-43) on Wednesday.
The sweep improves the Red Devils to 6-0 in league play, the best start for Eureka since joining the SLIAC prior to the 2007 season. Additionally, the Red Devils have won six consecutive SLIAC games for the first time in school history.
The Red Devils will put their unbeaten league record on the line this Saturday, welcoming defending SLIAC Tournament champion Fontbonne to Eureka for a 1 p.m. doubleheader.
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