Redhawks extend winning streak to 11

Monday, April 27, 2009
Southeast Missouri State center fielder Elise Sperakos ranges into the gap to make a catch during the seventh inning Sunday at the Southeast Softball Complex. Additional photos can be viewed online at semissourian.com. (Fred Lynch)

The Southeast softball team defeated Eastern Kentucky 4-3 on a walk-off hit.

Things weren't looking good for the Southeast Missouri State softball team Sunday.

But when you're as hot as the Redhawks are, the result tends to be positive.

So it didn't surprise the Redhawks that they rallied for a 4-3 win over visiting Eastern Kentucky to complete a three-game series sweep and notch their 11th consecutive victory.

The winning streak is the program's longest since 1998 and ties for the sixth-longest ever.

"We have so much confidence in each other," said Lauren Bradley, the Redhawks' lone senior who was recognized before the contest on senior day. "That's a big part of our success."

Southeast (23-19, 12-8) solidified its hold on third place in the nine-team Ohio Valley Conference.

"We have a lot of heart on this team," junior Elise Sperakos said.

The Redhawks fell behind 3-0 in the first inning -- all three runs were unearned -- and didn't have a hit until the fifth inning, when they made it 3-1.

Sperakos delivered a two-run double in the sixth that tied the contest, then the center fielder made a spectacular, diving catch in the seventh.

"I think it was a little bit of adrenaline there," Sperakos said.

Southeast won it in the bottom of the seventh.

Sophomore Whitney Dupuis led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by freshman Renee Kertz. Freshman Shelby Stein reached on an infield single to send Dupuis to third. Junior Alex Ramirez, Southeast's leading hitter, was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Junior Jennifer Vasquez followed with a drive down the left-field line that reached the wall. She was credited with a walk-off single as Dupuis trotted home.

"I just turned on it," Vasquez said.

Freshman ace Giana Zimmerman (14-8) notched her seventh straight win and second of the series. She allowed six hits, struck out seven and walked two.

"It's a good win for us," Southeast coach Lana Richmond said. "It keeps us climbing in the standings."

Richmond was happy to give her only senior a win on her special day. Bradley, who has played a variety of positions at Southeast, has overcome several injuries to rank fifth on the program's career home-run list with 14.

"Lauren has had a great career," Richmond said. "She's done everything we've asked her to do."

Southeast plays its final home game at 5 p.m. Wednesday against Eastern Illinois.

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