SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Erin Smith (Dunlap, Ill./Dunlap H.S.) twirled a three-hit shutout in the circle for her 12th career win and Kali George (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria H.S.) drove in three runs to lead the Eureka College softball team to a 5-0 win over USCAA Robert Morris-Springfield in the opener of Thursday's non-conference doubleheader in Springfield, Ill. The Eagles bounced back to salvage a split with a 2-1 victory in game two.
Eureka ended the day with an 8-2 overall record, equaling its 8-2 start in 2016 as the program's best mark through 10 games since the 1990 Red Devils began their season with 11 consecutive victories.
Game 1: Eureka 5, Robert Morris-Springfield 0
Smith struck out five, walked only one and limited the hosts to only three hits to lower her season earned-run average to 0.27. She is now 3-0 in 2018. George went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI while Gabby Wood (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone H.S.) and Allison Cagley (Fairbury, Ill./Prairie Central H.S.) also drove in runs in the win. Krysten Wallace (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone H.S.) walked three times en route to extending her all-time Eureka record for bases on balls to 64.
The Red Devils produced all the offense they would need in the top of the first inning. Kerrigan Dura's (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) single and Wallace's walk set the table for George, who cleared the bases with a double for a 2-0 cushion.
When Wallace coaxed a walk to begin the third inning, EC padded its lead to 3-0 when Wood slugged an RBI double. Further insurance came in the fifth on run-scoring singles from George and Cagley for a 5-0 advantage.
RMU didn't put a runner in scoring position until Savannah Anzaldua hit a two-out double in the fourth inning. Smith responded by retiring the next seven Eagles in order. Katie Williams ended the stretch with a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh, but Eureka promptly wiped the baserunner away with a 6-4-3 double play en route to EC's fourth shutout victory of the season.
Game 2: Robert Morris-Springfield 2, Eureka 1
Eureka was limited to four hits in the nightcap. Only Wallace's first-inning double went for extra bases. George struck out four in the circle and allowed only one earned run.
The hosts broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning with an unearned run. A two-out error in the Eureka infield allowed the frame to continue for Bayley Neece, who singled home Melissa Benson for a 1-0 advantage.
The Red Devils pulled even with a two-out rally in the sixth. Morgan Osborn (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) singled and scored two batters later on Wood's RBI single for a 1-1 tie. With the go-ahead runs on base, RMU reliever Rachel Perrine eluded further damage with a strikeout that ended the danger.
The Eagles scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth. Anzaldua hit a leadoff double and later scurried home for a 2-1 lead on Friesner's two-out double. Eureka put the tying run on base in the seventh thanks to a two-out single by Adrianna Zeman (La Salle, Ill./La Salle-Peru H.S.), but Perrine induced a flyout to again escape the jam and earn the victory in relief.
Eureka's home opener scheduled for Saturday against Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference member Rose-Hulman has been postponed due to inclement weather in the forecast. The twin bill against the Fightin' Engineers has been rescheduled for Sunday, March 25 at noon in Eureka.
The Red Devils will now turn their attention to the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener set for next Wednesday, March 21, a 3 p.m. doubleheader at Blackburn in Carlinville, Ill.