CARBONDALE — To defeat the SIU softball team you have to keep up with the Joneses.
The Salukis knocked off Southeast Missouri State 2-1 in nine innings Thursday. Senior Sydney Jones knocked in the winning run with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning. Her single made a winner of Brianna Jones, who pitched 4.1 innings of scoreless relief.
Katelyn Massa started the winning rally with a one-out laser off the glove of SEMO third baseman Addison Barnouski. After Massa went to second on a passed ball, the Redhawks elected to intentionally walk Jenny Jansen.
After a second passed ball moved Massa and Jansen to second and third, SEMO intentionally walked Megan Brown to bring up Jones.
Jones lashed an 0-2 pitch into left field to bring Massa home.
“The first pitch I wish I would have swung at,” Jones said. “The second pitch I thought I got a good hack on. The third one she kind of left flat and I took advantage of it because I was down 0-2. We’ve been trying to hit the ball hard on the ground all week.
“That’s the kind of game you have to gut out. It’s going to take one hit, one play to win that game. I think at the end of the game we definitely put it together when we needed too.”
“I was really proud of the kids,” said SIU coach Kerri Blaylock. “We haven’t been able to play consistently and you could really tell that on defense today. I thought we pitched extremely well against a really good club and I thought we hung in there against their good pitching.”
The Salukis, who have been a good defensive club this season, made four errors in the game. Brianna Jones, who relieved Savanna Dover in the fifth, was able to pitch around those miscues. In the sixth and eighth innings Jones fanned the last two hitters of the inning after SEMO put two on with just one out.
“She saved my butt twice,” said Sydney Jones, who had two of the errors. “She came in and pitched great.”
Jones entered the game in the fifth. After SEMO’s Sarah Messex tied the game with a long home run to left, the next two hitters reached on errors. Jones got a ground out to third to end the inning.
“We threw well,” Blaylock said. “Savanna Dover threw as well as she’s thrown since February. She was working the zone very, very well.
“Bri came in and relieved. I didn’t take Savannah out because I didn’t think she was throwing well, I took her out because of those two errors and we were coming back another time through the lineup.”
The Salukis had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Susie Baranski bunted for a hit and advanced on Massa’s walk. Jansen chopped a single into left field, allowing Baranski to score without a play.
Sydney Jones’ single made a winner of Brianna Jones, 16-2.
However, runs would be hard to come by the rest of the day. The Salukis stranded 11 runners in the fourth through the eighth innings.
“I really thought honestly it was really more about their pitchers making really good pitches,” Blaylock said. “They would kind of walk our kids and kind of maneuver around, but we really hung in there.”
The Salukis face league-leading Drake this weekend. The series was moved to Carbondale due to cold weather in Des Moines.