Malone’s shutout gives Shockers sweep
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Senior Katie Malone struggled commanding the strike zone in the first inning of Saturday’s first game against Indiana State.
Sunday was a different story.
Malone only allowed two hits in 22 at-bats and didn’t allow an ISU run to score to earn her 22nd win of the season in WSU’s 6-0 victory on Saturday at Wilkins Stadium.
“After yesterday, I knew I had to come out and get ahead (of the count) right away because yesterday that’s what I struggled with the most,” Malone said. “That’s what gave up most of our hits (yesterday) and led to the errors just because (the Sycamores) were able to take really big hacks compared to when I’m ahead and they have to be a little bit more careful at what they swing at.”
The Shockers were quiet in the first two innings, but made some noise in the bottom of the third. Junior McKenzie Adams gave WSU the go-ahead run with an RBI single to centerfield, moving to second base on a throw.
Junior Paige Luellen followed with her eighth home run of the season, crushing a shot to center to give the Shockers a 3-0 lead.
“Once we see the pitcher once, usually when we go around (the batting order), we tie them up pretty well and we can make things happen,” Adams said. “Usually it takes us an inning or two.”
Malone and the Shockers retired 12 straight Sycamore batters through the first four innings of play. ISU’s Brooke Riemenschneid broke the cold spell with a leadoff single in the top of the fifth inning.
At third base, junior Mackenzie Wright aided Malone on the mound with solid defense on the field. Wright caught four line drives, two of them for diving efforts, to prevent ISU runners from getting on base.
“Against a team like Indiana State, Katie’s not going to get a lot of strikeouts,” head coach Kristi Bredbenner said. “The defense has got to be the big thing that keeps us in the game. They’re going to put the ball in play. They’re fast, they’re scrappy and they try to make things happen. We couldn’t handle that yesterday early on.”
Wright was unable to get a hit during her second and third plate appearance when the Shockers had bases loaded opportunities. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Wright converted with a centerfield double that drove in sophomore Laurie Derrico to extend WSU’s lead 4-0.
Adams knotted her second double of the game with one in the bottom of the sixth inning that scored senior Kennedy Long from second base. An infield single from sophomore Asea Webber scored a run from third base to give the Shockers the six run advantage.
“We trust ourselves, we trust each other. I know people have my back and everybody knows that we have each other’s back,” Adams said. “Having the trust on the field and then having the confidence in each other is where we play looser and able to get it done.”
WSU (26-14, 11-4) returns to action on Wednesday with a doubleheader against Missouri State at Wilkins Stadium starting at 3 p.m.