Despite another delay in its schedule, the softball team won three of four games at the Aces Invitational in Evansville, Ind., early this week.
Due to the inclement weather, the four games ended up spanning Sunday and Monday.
The Racers faced Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and South Dakota State twice each.
Head Coach Kara Amundson said the players got better overall as a team this weekend.
“We just really competed start to finish, and we were really focused, which is something we’ve been working pretty hard on,” she said. “The game of softball’s not always easy to stay focused from start to finish, because there’s a lot of breaks in between innings or in between plays.”
In the Racers’ opener, they shut out IPFW 1-0, scoring off junior Casey Castile’s first home run of the season in the top of the fifth inning. Freshman pitcher Mason Robinson threw the complete game shut-out.
“Both defenses and both pitchers were doing a heck of a job in that game, so anytime you can score first in a tight game like that, it’s a big deal,” Amundson said. “It’s a momentum turner. I think it gave our pitcher and defense just that much more confidence that they could go out and hold it down. That was a big deal for us, and a great way to start the weekend.”
In game two, the Racers took down South Dakota State 11-0 in five innings. Castile once again jump started the Racers’ score with a two-run double in the top of the second. Freshman Maggie Glass put three more runs on the board in the third with the first home run of her college career.
Junior Alexa Becker joined the ranks with a two-run home run in the fifth.
During their third game of the weekend, the Racers came back from a 6-1 deficit to defeat South Dakota State 7-6. Glass hit her second homer of the weekend while Becker tripled in the fourth inning.
“The people that were hitting (home runs) are people that are more than capable of hitting them on a pretty regular basis,” Amundson said. “It was good to see that happen multiple times throughout the weekend.”
During the final game of the tournament, the Racers lost 4-0 during the rematch against IPFW.
Amundson said despite the loss, the team could take away some positives, such as playing its best games so far.
“I think being able to get back on the winning side obviously is huge morale going into conference season,” she said. “But even more so than the win-loss record, I think just knowing that we played some of the best softball yet this past weekend, start to finish, is even more important for me as a coach. Being able to get better and better every weekend is what matters going into conference play.”
The Racers are now 11-8 on the season and will open OVC play at home this weekend against conference rival UT Martin on Racer Field. They are scheduled to play a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and a single game at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“UT Martin has become a good rivalry for softball – they’re always really, really solid,” Amundson said. “So to be able to open with them, I think it’s going to be an intense series. I know our kids are ready to play and they’re ready to defend the home turf for the first time here on this field.”
Stpry by Mallory Tucker, Staff writer