Story by Collin Morris, Contributing writer
The Murray State softball team closed out their weekend doubleheader with split results, beating University of Missouri-St.Louis 4-0 and losing to Southern Illinois 1-0.
The doubleheader opened up the fall season for the Racers, completing two of the eight games scheduled for their spring season prerequisites. Head Coach Kara Amundson reiterated the goals of the Racers for their exhibition games and the progress they made last weekend.
“I was really proud of how we competed,” Amundson said. “The fall season is just a way for us to get out and compete a little bit and see what we have early on. I was really, really proud of how we came out and just strictly competed and executed things. Our defense made some really good plays so I was just happy with how the day went.”
With the fall season containing purely exhibition games, the team will have plenty of opportunities to experiment and develop. Amundson said she took advantage of one of those opportunities on Sunday.
“During the course of the day literally everybody played,” Amundson said. “We definitely had a chance to envision what our spring lineup will look like. One of the things I told the players to do was to be stars in their roles. What that means is regardless of if you’re starting, coming off the bench or in the bullpen – it doesn’t matter – always be a star in your role and be the best player and teammate you can be in any moment.”
Despite the games not counting towards the regular season, Amundson said she looked to keep her players focused and competitive in preparation for the spring.
“You just never know what to expect to see in the fall,” Amundson said. “But it felt like it was a spring game. It felt like it was a real game for us, and that’s how we talk about these fall games and it’s how we need to approach them. I don’t like to lose ever, whether it counts or not, and if Sunday speaks at all for how we’ll perform in the spring, I think we’re in good shape.”
That competitiveness was certainly put to the test on Sunday as the Racers experienced a seven-inning long stalemate ending in a walk-off base hit by Southern Illinois.
“That loss can be attributed to timely hitting by Southern Illinois,” Amundson said. “They scored in the bottom of the seventh so it was literally a walk-off hit up the middle. It was back and forth all game long. We’d get runners in scoring position and then their pitcher and defense would do what they needed to do and vice versa. It was a really good game and it was something you’d expect to see in the spring, not in the fall.”
Amundson said she believes there are always aspects of her team’s game that can be improved on and has already identified the necessary improvements after their first doubleheader.
“In the first game, we had a lot more opportunities to score runners that we didn’t take advantage of,” Amundson said. “In the second game, we didn’t score at all even though we had runners in scoring position at different times, but I do think we did a good job of trying to make adjustments; it just wasn’t clicking at the plate and Southern Illinois’ pitcher is a really good pitcher.”
The Racers’ next doubleheader is against Union University and will take place at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Sept. 25 at Racer Field.