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Home runs by Emme Olson, Allison Spence and Ellie Weltha helped power the Illinois State softball team to a 16-8 Missouri Valley Conference win over Evansville on Sunday and a sweep in their three-game series to open the league season at Evansville, Ind.

The Redbirds pounded out 13 hits in the slugfest with Spence leading the way with a grand slam and five RBIs.

Olson, an Olympia High School graduate, launched her team-leading sixth home run of the season over the right-field wall in the first inning with the two-run shot scoring Shannon Felde ahead of her.

Weltha, a Bloomington High School product, also homered in the first after Spence had drawn a walk. Weltha, a freshman, ended the day 3-of-4 at the plate with four RBIs.

Both of the first-inning home runs came off Central Catholic grad Izzy Vetter, who was spared the pitching loss when Evansville answered with four runs of its own in the first, before taking a 6-4 lead with a pair of runs in the second.

ISU would retake the lead for good by plating three runs in the fourth. Spence's grand slam came in the fifth to give ISU a six-run cushion.

The game was brought to a sixth-inning, run-rule halt when ISU pushed across three runs, highlighted by Weltha's two-run single.

Morgan Day (4-9) relieved Redbird starter Mack Leonard in the second and was credited with the win.

In capturing their third straight conference victory, ISU improved to 9-20 overall. Evansville fell to 10-14.

The Redbirds are slated to host Iowa in their home opener at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Marian Kneer Stadium before returning to Valley play next weekend at Indiana State.

ILLINOIS WESLEYAN

Men's golf third at Jekyll Island: The IWU men's golf team finished third among 30 teams in the Jekyll Island Collegiate Invitational at Jekyll Island, Ga.

The three-day, 54-hole event saw the Titans card a final-round 289 to end the tourney at even par 864. Tourney champion Emory finished a 6-under 858 to edge Huntingdon (861) for the top spot.

IWU junior Ben Johnson tied for ninth place among individuals in the 150-player field with a score of 2-under 214 on the par 72, 6,700-yard course. Huntingdon's Stephen Shephard shot a blistering final-round 66 to finish at 12-under 204 to grab medalist honors.

Women's golf eighth at Westbrook: The IWU women's golf team finished eighth among 10 teams in the two-day, 36-hole Westbrook Invitational that concluded Sunday at the Westbrook Village Golf Club Lakes Course in Peoria, Ariz.

IWU sophomore Jackie Garcia paced the Titans with a 15-over 157 on the par 71, 5953-yard course. Garcia's total left her tied for 24th place among individuals.

As a team, the Titans shot 640. Claremont Mudd Scripps (Calif.) was the champion at 595.

Contact Bruce Yentes at (309) 820-3391. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_yentes

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