Redbirds Drop Valley Opener at Bruins

Next game:

in Belmont

03/18/2023 | 2 p.m.

March 18 (Sat) / 2 p.m.

in Belmont

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Despite a comeback effort from Illinois State (9-15) that included the game-winning run represented at home plate in the top of the seventh, Belmont (14-9) was able to hold off the rally from the Redbirds and take the victory 4-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference opener on Friday night.


Offensive highlights:

Distribution of throws:

Hannah Ross (2-6): 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, BB, 5 K, HBP


As Illinois State and Belmont faced off as conference opponents for the first time, the Bruins were able to take an early lead over the Redbirds late in the second. A starting triple from first-year catcher Brenna Blume kicked off the second-inning rally for the Bruins. The Redbirds got an out when the next batter reached a fielder’s pick, but got caught trying to extend to second base. With one out in the inning, a walk and a stolen base put two runners, both in scoring position. Right fielder Kailey Brown then hit a left RBI double and after getting the next batter’s second out of the inning, Bruins third baseman Kaley Varner tripled down the right field line and Brown scored. After two full innings, the Bruins led 3-0.

Belmont added to their lead late in the fifth as Blume hit an RBI double and Nicole Hughes scored from the third, but Emily Cockrill was caught trying to score from the second as second Addison Masching threw a dart from left field to senior receiver Dayna Kennedy at home to keep another run off the board for the Bruins.

Illinois State notched its first hit of the game in the top of the sixth as senior Kaili Chval, who earlier reached on an error by Bruins shortstop, beat an infield single at third base. Nothing came of the hit and Belmont still led 4-0 after six full innings.

The Redbirds began to make a comeback in the top of the seventh as junior Jayden Standish walked first to start the inning. Masching then followed with a single to the center to put two runners up. Freshman Bailah Bognar came in to pinch the run for Standish, and Bognar and Masching both took scoring position on wild pitch. Bruins pitcher Maya Johnson got out the first of the inning before junior Hanna Hicks stepped in for her second at bat of the day. Hicks then threw a bloop single to shallow right field for his first hit of the season and to break the shutout as Bognar was able to score from third. Kennedy was next in line and represented the tie run, but she drew a march to load the bases. Sophomore Delainey Bryant and fifth-year senior Emme Olson both batted in the top of the seventh and accounted for the winning inning, but the Redbirds couldn’t complete the return. Belmont won the MVC season opener 4-1 over Illinois State.


Junior Hanna Hicks had her first hit and first RBI of 2023 on her second at bat of the game. She also walked her third of the season in the top of the fifth inning when she came in to hit hard for senior Brandi LaFountaine. Hicks then stayed in the game to play right field.


Illinois State (9-15) and Belmont (14-9) will meet for Game 2 of the three-game series on Saturday, March 18 at 2 p.m. CT. Live stats will be available as well as an ESPN3 broadcast.

For Illinois State Softball updates, follow the Redbirds on Twitter (@RedbirdsSB), Instagram (@redbirdsoftball) and Facebook (Illinois State Redbird Softball). and the Illinois State Redbirds App: Your sources for Illinois State tickets, Weisbecker Athletic Fund giveaways, media, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.


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