Belmont softball may have hosted Illinois State at a cold E.S Rose Park, but one thing is for certain.
Bruin redshirt freshman pitcher Maya Johnson was hot.
The red-hot presence inside the circle helped the Belmont secure a 4-1 victory, warming up to the Missouri Valley Conference in its first series in the new league.
Johnson, in her home debut, started strong by garnering multiple strikeouts along with the help of her team to hold the Redbirds to zero runs in the first inning.
In the second inning, Johnson celebrated her magic moment, with her teammates cheering her on, she finished the inning with three consecutive strikeouts.
But it was not just Johnson leading the team.
After a controversial call on the bases, freshman catcher Brenna Blume remained on third base after an attempted double play by the Redbirds.
Giving the Bruins the much-needed motivation, senior right fielder Kailey Brown earned a two RBI double, and junior third baseman Kaley Varner celebrated a RBI triple, giving the Bruins a 3-0 lead going into the top of the 3rd.
Johnson and Redbirds’ pitcher, Hannah Ross, continued to battle it out to see who would be the top pitcher.
Ross was able to hold the Bruins at three runs until the bottom of the 5th inning where Blume also earned an RBI, extending the Bruins’ lead to 4-0.
In the top of the 7th inning, the Redbirds started to push back against the Bruins’ defense in an effort to maintain their winning streak, with junior Hanna Hicks earning a base hit RBI after her teammate was walked to put the Redbirds on the scoreboard.
After giving up another hit and a walk, Johnson was able to shut down the Redbirds.
She left the bases loaded with two back-to-back strikeouts, ending her Rose Park debut with fifteen strikeouts.
With the win, the Bruins now hold a 14-9 record.
The two teams will continue their three-game series on Saturday and Sunday.
This article was written by Emma Woodhead