For the first time in school history, the Wichita State softball team has won the MVC regular season with a 7-3 and 12-3 victories over Illinois State (25-26, 17-7) Saturday at Marian Kneer Stadium. The Shockers (33-20, 20-6) used six home runs – two from Cacy Williams – 25 total hits and 12 strikeouts from Katie Malone to sweep the doubleheader.
The victories also mark the first time since 2008 the softball team has reached 33 wins and the first time since 2005 the team has reached 20 wins in the Missouri Valley. The Shockers will go into the MVC Tournament May 8-10 as the No. 1 seed and will play Fri., May 9 at 12:05 p.m. against the game three winner.
Kelli Spring led Wichita State in the doubleheader, hitting 4-for-6 (.667) with a double, home run, five RBIs and three runs scored. Liz Broyles hit .500 (4-for-8) with a RBI and two runs scored, while Williams hit .444 (4-for-9) with two home runs, five RBIs and three runs scored in the victories.
Malone was a force for the Shockers on the day, striking out 12 and allowing seven hits and just four runs in 10 innings pitched for a 2.80 ERA. The freshman from Crete, Neb., picked up the win in the first game to bring her overall record to 16-6 before picking up her fourth save in game two. Jenni Brooks (5-2) was recorded with the win in game two, allowing nine hits and two runs, striking out two in four innings.
Game One: Wichita State 7, Illinois State 3
Katie Malone reached the century mark in strikeouts in the second inning of the game, striking out two to reach the milestone on the season.
Paige Luellen got the Shockers on the board first with a home run over the center field wall to give Wichita State a 1-0 advantage in the third inning.
Illinois State wouldn’t let the lead last for long, however, responding in the bottom half of the inning with a home run of its own to left field to tie the game, 1-1.
The Redbirds kept the bats hot in the fourth inning, hitting a single to center field before Jordan de los Reyes hit a two-run homer to center field to give Illinois State a 3-1 lead, its first of the game.
Brittany Fortner hit her seventh home run on the season in the sixth inning over the center field wall to cut the Illinois State lead, 3-2. Mason and Jaegers hit singles to left field but the Redbirds retired Vandever to get out of the inning and maintain the lead going into the bottom of the inning.
Ashley Johnson hit a leadoff single to left field in the seventh, advancing to second on an Illinois State error that saw Kelli Spring reach first. Cacy Williams made her fourth at-bat count for the Shockers, hitting a three-run homer to right field to give the Shockers a 5-3 advantage with no outs. Luellen continued the hitting streak, connecting on a single to center field, advancing to second on a fielding error. The Shockers put runners at second and third on a SAC bunt by Mason before Liz Broyles hit a RBI single to left field to extend the lead, 6-3. Jaegers hit a SAC fly to center field immediately following, bringing in Fortner to give the Shockers a 7-3 cushion going into the final half inning.
Malone struck out the first two batters before Fortner retired the final batter to give Wichita State a 7-3 victory over Illinois State in game one of the doubleheader. Malone pitched her eighth complete game this season, allowing just four hits and three runs, while striking out seven in the victory.
Broyles and Luellen each hit 2-for-4 combining for two RBIs in game one, while Jaegers hit 1-for-2 and Williams hit 1-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs.
Game Two: Wichita State 12, Illinois State 3
Mason kept things rolling for the Shockers in game two, hitting a leadoff home run to left field in the second inning, giving Wichita State an early 1-0 lead. Broyles followed Mason with a single up the middle, advancing to second on a SAC bunt by Jaegers. Vandever drew a walk to put runners in scoring position before Johnson hit a single to load the bases. Spring hit a two RBI single to right center, followed by a RBI double by Luellen and a RBI single by Fortner to give the Shockers a 5-0 advantage.
Illinois State threatened to score in the bottom half of the inning, loading the bases on back-to-back singles and a fielder’s choice but a fly out and a monster throw from Fortner to Jaegers threw out the runner at home before Broyles caught a line drive to get the Shockers out of the inning.
The Redbirds finally got on the board in the fifth inning, hitting a two-run homer to right field to cut the Shocker lead, 5-2. Malone relieved Brooks following the home run, after Brooks allowed nine hits and two runs, striking out one in five innings. Illinois State added another run on a groundout to first base, cutting the Wichita State lead, 5-3, heading into the sixth inning.
Spring hit a two-out single to left field before Williams hit her second home run of the day to extend the Shocker lead, 7-3. The home run marked Williams’ fifteenth of the season, tying the school record of home runs in a season with Cynthia Verhulst who hit 15 in 2007.
Wichita State added five more in the seventh inning, hitting back-to-back singles, with both advancing on a wild pitch to put runners in scoring position before a single by Jaegers and an error scored both runners to give the Shockers a 9-3 advantage. Spring hit a three RBI homer to right field, her third of the season to extend the lead, 12-3, giving Malone a nice cushion going into the bottom half of the inning.
Malone struck out two-straight batters and Williams made the final out to give the Shockers the win and their first MVC regular season championship in school history.
Williams hit 3-for-5 in the victory, raising her overall batting average to .421, while Spring hit 3-for-4 with five RBIs in game two.
The Shockers will play the final game of the series Sunday with the first pitch slated for 12 p.m.