Softball struggles to find wins

Jenny Rohl/The News Sophomore J.J. Francis pitches against the University of Evansville at Racer Field April 10.
Jenny Rohl/The News Sophomore J.J. Francis pitches against the University of Evansville at Racer Field April 10.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Sophomore J.J. Francis pitches against the University of Evansville at Racer Field April 10.

The Murray State softball team did not have the weekend it would have liked as it saw its seven-game win streak snapped on Saturday. The Racers were swept at Eastern Kentucky in the first doubleheader of the weekend and then split at Morehead State to escape 1-3 on the weekend.

The Racers were riding the second longest win streak in program history as they traveled to Eastern Kentucky Saturday. Head Coach Kara Amundson has reiterated to the team several times not to focus on anything but the game in front of them.

“We’ve just come off a seven game win streak and I told them that we don’t need to look at those things,” Amundson said. “We just need to keep moving forward.”

Unfortunately, the momentum failed to translate early as Eastern’s Lauren Mitchell broke the scoreless tie in the second inning on a passed ball. The inning would see two more Colonel runs by Amber Murray and Kayla Joyce to increase the lead 3-0. The game was within reach for the Racers until the sixth inning when Eastern scored four runs on four hits. The Racers could not recover and the game ended with a 7-0 Colonel advantage. Eastern dominated at the plate with 10 hits to the Racers’ 3.

In game two, both teams struggled to put runs on the board as the game was scoreless until freshman Jocelynn Rodgers singled up the middle in the top of the fourth to break the tie by plating freshman Jessica Twaddle. Sophomore Erica Howard pushed junior Casey Castile across in the next at-bat when she singled through the left side to increase the Racer lead 2-0.

The Colonels responded in the bottom of the frame, cutting the lead to one on a run by Christina Ciolek. Eastern then tied the game in the next inning on a single that got through the left side, scoring Lauren Mitchell. Eastern insured its sweep in the sixth inning when Mitchell scored Sarah Fobbs and Haley Schenasi on a double for the go ahead points, winning the game 4-2.

“I wouldn’t say it was a step back at all,” Amundson said. “I think any team that you look at whether they’re the best in the country or the worst in the country has times where they play great and they’re playing the best softball they can play. Then there’s other times where you just have a few things that don’t go your way in the game, and you can’t catch up to the pitcher, you know, small things like that just turn into a loss for you.”

On Sunday, the Racers traveled to Morehead State for another doubleheader. In game one, the pitchers took center stage as freshman Mason Robinson and Morehead State’s Tanna Seuferer faced off.

Murray State was only able to get five hits, just one for extra bases, and a walk off Seuferer over the full seven innings. Meanwhile, Robinson tied her career-high in strikeouts with eight while allowing the Eagles just one hit in the first 6.1 innings of the game. The Racers could not hold on, however, in the last two innings as Morehead’s Karly Thompson ended the game in heartbreaking fashion for the Racers in the next at-bat when she hit a hard ground ball that went perfectly through Robinson’s legs. The hit scored Sam Howard for the 1-0 walk-off win.

After the tough stretch they endured, Amundson told the team that nothing would be easy.

“Coach is always on us to focus on the little things and to be sharp and focused,” said senior Leslie Bridges. “She told us not to go out there expecting things to just be given to us, but to go out there and earn it.”

In the fourth game of the weekend, Murray State regrouped and controlled the game from start to finish. Junior Mo Ramsey and Twaddle both scored in the first inning off a triple by freshman Taylor Odom to start things off.

The action slowed down a bit in the next three innings as each team went scoreless, but Twaddle scored her second run of the game off freshman Cayla Levins’ sacrifice bunt that went down as a single.

The Racers pushed the lead out to five in the fifth as Ramsey and junior Alexa Becker scored off of Morehead State miscues. The Eagles put forth a last ditch effort in the sixth as they had the bases loaded with no outs, but all they managed was one run from Sam Howard off a sacrifice fly. Neither team scored in the seventh as the Racers snapped their three game losing streak, winning 5-1.

“The girls decided that enough was enough and that they were going to go out and get a win,” Amundson said. “You never want to lose games, but if you can learn from those situations, that is what’s going to help you succeed in the end. We’re learning from the mistakes we made and using them to move forward.”

The Racers continue this Saturday as they take on Southern Illinois Edwardsville at Racer Field.

 

Story by Peter Northcutt, Staff writer