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SIU Softball at Lions Classic

The SIU softball team huddles during the Lions Classic in Hammond, La. The Salukis dropped their first two games of the season before finishing the round-robin event with three straight wins. 

HAMMOND, La. — The SIU softball team (3-2) earned their third-straight win in a 15-3 route over Mississippi Valley State (0-4) in the final day at the Lion Classic Sunday.

The Saluki offense exploded for 15 runs on eight hits in the victory. Patience was key against the Devilettes, as Southern drew 12 walks. Kyleigh Decker drew of four of the 12, which tied a single game record held by Kalyn Harker, who drew four against Maryland in 2012. Susie Baranski paced the offense, going for 2 for 2 at the plate with two runs scored, one run batted in and a steal.

Holly Marousek started and lasted 1.1 innings before being replaced by Brianna Jones (2-1), who pitched the remaining 3.2 innings. Jones earned the decision, as she gave up only three hits and one run, while striking out a game-high four batters.

"I thought the offense was real good right away," coach Kerri Blaylock said. "We talked about having energy and finishing really strong, so I thought the kids did a great job."

In the fourth, the Salukis blew the game open with nine runs on two hits, nine walks, four wild pitches and one passed ball. They also batted through the order twice in the inning.

Baranski hit a leadoff triple to start the inning and scored on a sac fly by Maddy Vermejan the next play. The trio of Jenny Jansen, Katelyn Massa and Decker then drew three-consecutive walks to load the bases. Jansen scored on a passed ball, Massa reached home on an infield RBI single from Brown and Decker scored on a wild pitch. SIU did not collect a hit for the remainder of the inning, but still managed to score five more runs in result of five walks, three wild pitches and one hit batter by the Devilette pitchers. At the conclusion of the half inning, Southern held a 15-2 advantage over Mississippi Valley.

The nine runs were the most in a inning by a Saluki team since they scored nine in the seventh in a 18-10 win over Bradley on April 21, 2018.

"Sometimes when the pitchers are struggling, you have to do a good job of being patient and getting good pitches to hit," Blaylock said. "Our offense did a good job of doing that."

The Salukis are back in action from Feb. 14-16 at the Puerto Vallarta Challenge. Southern will face off against Mississippi State, Northern Colorado, Sacramento State and North Dakota State in the three-day span. 

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Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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