NORMAL — Lauren Kellar laid down sacrifice bunts in her first two plate appearances Tuesday. Leading off the fifth inning of a 2-2 game, it was time to swing away.
Did she ever.
Kellar pulled the first pitch from Bradley’s Lindsay Hufeld over the right-field fence, giving ISU the lead in a 3-2 Missouri Valley Conference softball victory at Marian Kneer Stadium.
“I was kind of anxious to hit,” said Kellar, a Ridgeview High School graduate. “I was just trying to find a pitch I could drive and get something started.”
The result was the sophomore leftfielder’s third home run of the season, raising her batting average to .308. She also has a team-high seven sacrifices.
“She’s been great for us in that No. 2 hole when Kara (Nelson) does get on with a leadoff single or whatever. She’s a good bunter,” ISU coach Melinda Fischer said.
“I thought she really took advantage of a pitch she could drive and it just happened to go over the fence.”
Lizzie Andrews hit a solo homer in the second inning and Abby Olson had an RBI double in the third for ISU (20-11, 7-1), which won its fifth straight heading into today’s 6 p.m. game at Illinois.
The Redbirds committed three errors in the first four innings. It led to unearned runs in the first and fourth for Bradley (8-27, 1-7), which lost 3-2 and 3-1 to ISU on March 19.
Megan Warner (8-5) overcame her teammates’ shaky start en route to a four-hitter.
“I give her a lot of credit,” Fischer said. “Sometimes that’s hard to do in the circle when your defense isn’t playing like it has behind you prior to tonight. I thought she really hung in there and made some quality pitches.”
Warner blanked Bradley without a hit over the last three innings, though Jackie Roth sent Andrews to the center field wall on the final out.
“I was screaming her name and hoping, but it didn’t quite get there,” Bradley coach Amy Hayes said of Roth’s drive.
Hayes said Kellar’s homer “was all her,” adding, “That was just a nice hit on what we thought was a nicely placed ball. We didn’t feel like we missed on that pitch.”