Story by Mark McFarland, Sports Editor
The Murray State softball team struggled last weekend, only mustering one win out of three to No. 5 Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
After the series, the Racers moved to 18-23 overall and 8-9 in the OVC. Murray State sits in sixth place in the conference and would qualify for the OVC Tournament if the season ended today. The Cougars move to 17-20 in the year and 9-7 in the conference and sit one spot above Murray State.
Despite losing the series, the Racers tied SIUE 4-4 in overall runs on the weekend. Head Coach Kara Amundson said the pitching and defense helped keep the Racers in the series.
“We gave up a total of four runs and we scored a total of four runs,” Amundson said. “It just wasn’t necessarily at the right times for us. I felt, in general, our pitchers did a pretty dang good job of holding people and attacking the zone.”
The series with SIUE was the Racers’ lowest scoring three-game series of the season, with a total of only eight runs scored.
With the Racers giving up four runs last weekend, their team earned run average (ERA) is third best in the OVC at 2.73 in 271.1 innings pitched this season. Amundson said the last couple weekends the pitching has really been strong and continues to improve.
“Over the past five conference games, we have only given up five runs in the circle,” Amundson said. “But we need to score.”
Junior pitcher Mason Robinson has a 13-11 record, 1.78 ERA and 161.2 innings pitched and leads the pitching staff for the Racers. She is holding her opponents to a .211 batting average, which ranks first on the team and fifth in the OVC. She leads the league in games started and innings pitched and is in third place in wins. Amundson said she has been a force to be reckoned with not only in the conference, but all year as the team’s No. 1 pitcher.
“What she is doing right now, I can’t ask for more from her,” Amundson said. “We have outscored our opponents in conference by 20 runs, which is just kind of a staggering number.”
The Racers play two series this weekend, one against Jacksonville State, the top team in the OVC, and the other against Tennessee Tech, who sits ninth.
The OVC Tournament is May 11-14 at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Alabama. The top eight teams move on with the winner of the tournament receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Regionals.
Amundson said she keeps preaching to her team to just get to the tournament and they could be one of the teams to beat.