The fall season came to a close Oct. 17 as Murray State softball finished its schedule with an intrasquad scrimmage. The Racers were initially scheduled to face Shawnee Community College in the final match of the year, but due to unfortunate circumstances Shawnee had to cancel last minute.
“The coach of the other team had a former player pass away, unfortunately,” said Head Coach Kara Amundson. “That obviously takes priority over softball. We tried to find somebody to play, but it was less than 24 hours to get somebody here, so we just made the call to do an intrasquad scrimmage.”
Despite the cancelled game, fans were still encouraged to attend the scrimmage. They were treated to two six-inning scrimmages in its last glance at this year’s team before the spring season.
“The competition we had out there with two pretty solid teams within our own team really was a good way to end the fall,” Amundson said. “It was competitive and everybody worked really hard. They did a good job of making it as much of a game as against somebody else as we possibly could.”
With a fully loaded roster this year, the Racers’ scrimmage proved to be more than just a filler for the cancelled game. Only nine starting spots are offered to the 23 rostered players, so every practice or scrimmage is an opportunity to secure playing time in the spring.
“It’s just a competitive thing,” Amundson said. “We have a ton of depth on this team right now so every time we go out to practice they’re trying to prove themselves and fight for a starting position. I think they are excited about the kind of talent we have moving forward; and the practices are fun when they are that competitive.”
The full roster translated to success on the field this fall as the Racers finished the season at 5-1.
The Racers started the season with two wins over Lake Land College, followed by wins the next weekend over John A. Logan and nonconference rival Southern Illinois-Carbondale. The Racers ended their season with a doubleheader against Truman State, resulting in both a win and the lone loss of the season.
The Racers were led individually by senior infielder Alexa Becker who posted a .667 batting average.
She was followed by sophomore outfielder Mallory Young, junior outfielder Brianne Sanders and sophomore infielder Kaylyn Zierke, who each posted a .500 average.
The pitching staff was led by sophomore, Mason Robinson with a 0.64 earned run average while junior J.J. Francis followed with a 0.70 ERA.
Looking back at the fall season, Amundson raved about her team’s performance, especially from the mound.
“I was really proud of our pitching staff and how they competed throughout and made adjustments, specifically throughout the fall,” Amundson said. “I think they have made it really hard moving forward to put them in a tiered position, if you will. Any one of them came out to pitch any day of the week which is great for us to be able to have four pitchers on staff who can come out and do the job. We had multiple kids playing multiple positions – some that they had never played before, and we took those challenges head on.”
Amundson said that she was pleased with her team from an offensive standpoint as well.
“I thought we did a pretty good job offensively for the most part – which you don’t always see in the fall. The next six weeks for us is trying to really break down the swing and make sure everyone’s in a good spot moving forward in to the spring,” Amundson said.
The Racers now enter the offseason with an eye on the upcoming season.
Its spring campaign will officially begin Feb. 6 as the Racers compete in the eighth Annual Red & Black Showcase hosted by the University of Georgia.
Story by Peter Northcutt, Staff writer