The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers snapped Murray State softball’s four-game winning streak with a score of 3-2 Wednesday.
The Racers began their winning streak with a pair of wins in a doubleheader March 22 at Tennessee State. After losing six consecutive games, Murray State posted a shutout in game one with a score of 3-0 and then rolled in the second game of the series on the back of a huge team effort, outscoring the Tigers 8-1.
The team returned home Sunday to face Belmont in a doubleheader, resulting in two of Murray State’s best performances all year.
The Racers crushed Belmont in both contests, scoring a total of 12 runs while holding the opponent to only two.
Head Coach Kara Amundson said she didn’t want the team to focus too much on its wins over the weekend when preparing for its game Wednesday against Western Kentucky.
“We have a short memory, win or lose,” Amundson said. “The past doesn’t matter, the only game that counts is the one in front of you.”
The momentum of the winning streak failed to translate onto the final scoreboard against the Hilltoppers despite a valiant comeback attempt in the sixth inning.
After the Racers fell behind 2-0 to the Hilltoppers early in the game, they gained their composure and tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Freshman Maggie Glass led off with a single while sophomore Shelbey Miller followed with an RBI double up the middle. Miller then advanced to third base on a sacrifice from junior Mo Ramsey.
With a runner on third, one out and a 2-2 count, freshman Cayla Levins hit it back to the pitcher for a throw to first, and a scored run by Miller tied the game 2-2.
After the big inning, freshman pitcher Mason Robinson continued the momentum by striking out the side in the top of the sixth.
The 2-2 tie continued into the eighth inning before the Hilltoppers scored an RBI with runners on second and third to pull into the lead 3-2. The Racers couldn’t recover in the bottom of the eighth as their four-game win streak failed to stay alive.
Miller was pleased with the team’s performance, but she credited the loss to some unusual fielding mistakes.
“Our hitters did a pretty good job adjusting to the pitching and making changes throughout the game,” Miller said. “We just had a few miscues here and there and we let things get away from us.”
Admundson agreed that the team played well in a hard-fought game.
“They scored early and we went down 2-0, and to battle back and tie it up was a big deal,” Admundson said. “We just couldn’t close it out in the end. It was a good battle by both teams.”
The Racers have their work cut out for them Saturday as they take on Eastern Illinois, the defending OVC regular season champions. The 20-9 Panthers are 2-2 in conference play this season.
“They’re a big conference game,” Miller said. “I know we’re all excited to play Eastern Illinois and they would be huge wins if we could get them.”
Story by Peter Northcutt, Staff writer