It was a tale of two teams Sept. 30 when the Murray State softball team split a doubleheader with Division II Truman State at Racer Field. The Racers came out flat in the first game and lost 6-5 but bounced back in the second game by trouncing the Bulldogs 8-0.
The first game looked promising for the Racers in the opening innings as they scored three runs in the second inning to gain an early three-run advantage. However, by the top of the sixth, Truman State had regained the lead at 5-4.
In the bottom of the sixth, Julia Liceaga stole home after a single from Alexa Becker. That tied the game at 5-5. The seventh inning proved to be Murray State’s undoing as the Bulldog’s Ally McReynolds sacrificed to score Alexis VanNostrad from third. The Racers couldn’t pull even in the bottom of the inning and the game ended at 6-5.
“I think in the first game we did well enough offensively to win,” said Head Coach Kara Amundson. “Defensively we came out really strong. We struck out the side which I think we’ve done in a lot of our first innings of our games. I don’t want to say that we went downhill from there, but we didn’t play well. We didn’t play solid defensively throughout the rest of the game.”
Amundson said that she isn’t used to seeing her Racer team play like they did in game one.
“We would score runs and then we would give up runs in the next half inning,” Amundson said. “It just isn’t indicative of what we have been doing or indicative of what we want to be doing defensively. I think it was good for us. I hate losing with a passion, but I think it was good for us in a way, to help us realize that we can’t settle for anything and that we have to stay focused.”
The Racers took the wake up call to heart as they came out in the second game with vengeance. Pitchers J.J. Francis and Mason Robinson combined to throw a no-hitter in the second game. Robinson struck out six batters with no walks in the first four innings, while Francis finished the game with just one walk. The Racers improved on defense and the offense showed potential as well in the second game by scoring eight runs on 12 hits. Sophomores Jessica Twaddle and Maggie Glass led the way for the Racers as both went 3-4 at bat while Glass finished with three runs, three RBIs and a homerun.
“We came out guns a blazing,” Amundson said. “We had a combined no hitter from Mason Robinson and J.J. Francis, which is a big deal. They did a great job, they attacked the zone, our defense executed, and I think the whole day offensively we did a good enough job to win both games. In game two, I was really proud of how our pitching staff came out and kind of led the charge. It was two very different Racer teams in that span of two games.”
The execution and consistency from the Racers in the second game was a welcomed sight to Amundson after the lackluster performance in the first game.
“The second game was a complete turnaround,” Amundson said. “The first game was kind of like a minor wake up call for us moving forward. Like I said, it was a good learning opportunity and it was good to take a few minutes in between the games and reflect and be able to refocus. Game one was definitely a good learning opportunity for us.”
Although the season is winding down, Amundson still sees opportunity for growth from her team.
“The biggest thing I want to see from us is a sense of urgency and getting better in every inning,” Amundson said. “That’s something I say to the pitching staff a lot. We need some sort of focus and refocus every inning because there is a substantial time period between one defensive inning and the next, it could be 10 or 20 minutes before you go out and play again. So really it’s just refocusing every inning we go out there. Those are the types of things that I’m really looking forward to see.”
The Racers will finish their fall season in one week as they take on Shawnee Community College at Racer Field on Oct. 17.
Story by Peter Northcutt, Staff writer