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The road ends here

Elizabeth Leggett March 27, 2015 Athletics, Basketball, Slider Featured stories
Photo by Jenny Rohl/The News

Photo by Jenny Rohl/The News

It was a fairytale season with a nightmare of an ending – an ending that was all too familiar for the Murray State Racers as they lost on a buzzer-beater three from Old Dominion University on Wednesday during the quarterfinal game of the National Invitation Tournament at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va.

After junior forward Jeffery Moss hit a 3-pointer to tie it up with just nine seconds left on the clock, it appeared the Racers had come back to push the game to overtime. The sellout crowd in the Convocation Center fell silent until the Monarch’s junior guard Trey Freeman shocked not just the fans, but the nation with a deep three to end the Racers’ season 72-69.

The last-second shot echoed the OVC Championship game against Belmont when the Racers lost in the last seconds pushing them out of the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m extremely hurt for my guys,” said Head Coach Steve Prohm. “We’re 27 and two in our last 29 games, and both our games we’ve lost on a fadeaway 3 and a bank 3-pointer. God’s blessed this team abundantly.”

Down by 10 points with 3:39 to play, the Racers stepped it up in the final minutes of the game in hopes of ending their season in New York, but instead Old Dominion was able to finish out a perfect home season with their 20th consecutive home win. … Continue Reading

Baseball loses at home opener

Elizabeth Leggett March 27, 2015 Athletics, Baseball
HNH_0283_EDIT

Haley Hays/The News Sophomore pitcher Tanner Edge, from Owensboro, Ky., pitches the ball at the Racers home opener Tuesday.

Coming off a series win at home over the weekend, the Racers (8-17, 4-5) lost 14-6 Tuesday to Arkansas State University (10-11). The eight-run drubbing though  was an improvement from last seasons 27-7 loss against Red Wolves.

After four innings, the Racers led 5-3 but the Red Wolves scored four runs in the top of the fifth to take a 7-5 lead.

Sophomore John Lollar started the game and struck out a career best six batters over four innings while allowing four runs.

The Racers have struggled to pitch well in games in which the offense is scoring and have failed to hit when they are getting strong starts from their pitchers.

“If we can get both sides flowing at the same time, that would be awesome,” said Derek Yoder, a senior left fielder.

Losing affects the morale of the players in the locker room. … Continue Reading

Accidentally in love

Elizabeth Leggett March 27, 2015 Athletics, Sports Columns

I joke about a lot of things – almost everything, in fact. I can make light of almost any situation. It’s a quality in myself that I both love and despise at the same time. Some find it endearing, others find it obnoxious, but such is my personality.

I so frequently say “my life is a joke,” that at times I start to actually believe it. Lately, though, the reality of my life is smacking me in the face.

I may be a college student, but my work as a student journalist is nothing if not full-time. I get paid on salary, (although it’s nothing to write home about) many of my travel expenses are covered and I’m absolutely never off the clock.

As long as there are student-athletes at Murray State, there is always breaking news for my section. And when a team is as successful as our basketball team has been this season, I’m constantly on the road, hunting down the most current story. … Continue Reading

Softball wins at home

Elizabeth Leggett March 27, 2015 Athletics, Softball

While most of the Racers were enjoying their Spring Break on beache the Murray State softball team had their first home opener where they hosted 13th ranked Kentucky, traveled to face Belmont, and back home to play Tennessee State.

The Racers fell 5-2 in the first game and 1-0 in the second.

Head Coach Kara Amundson said that they played really well against Kentucky. She said they attacked the zone well and did what they needed to do offensively.

“We outhit Kentucky in game two. They had to bring in their number one pitcher and were not planning on throwing their number one in either game,” Amundson said.

Sophomore catcher Jocelynn Rodgers put the Racers on the board in the sixth with a double. … Continue Reading

Women and men’s tennis open spring season

Elizabeth Leggett March 27, 2015 Athletics, Tennis

UT Martin sophomore Hitomi Naito was undefeated in conference singles play until Tuesday when she played Murray State senior Andrea Eskauriatza at Bennie Purcell Tennis Courts.

The match was back and forth with Eskauriatza winning the first set 7-5 and losing the second set 6-1. In the deciding set Eskauriatza was able to take control of the match and win 6-2.

Eskauriatza’s win was part of a 7-0 victory by the Racers (10-3, 4-1) against the Skyhawks (5-5, 2-1).  The match was previously scheduled for March 18 but rain forced the coaches to postpone it.

“It was raining a little during warmups but the courts were still playable,” said Head Coach Jorge Caetano. “After we got started the rain started to accumulate on the lines so we talked about it and they (Skyhawks) are only a 45-minute drive from us so we thought it was better to postpone than to try and wait it out.”

During Spring Break the women and men’s teams played three OVC matches starting on March 17 with Austin Peay State at Bennie Purcell Tennis Courts. Despite wind gusts up to 20 mph, the women made quick work of the Lady Govs (2-13, 0-5), winning 7-0. … Continue Reading

Soccer comes back

Elizabeth Leggett March 27, 2015 Athletics, Soccer

Spring practices and games give good precedent to Racer soccer.

Though their regular season has passed, the Racers meet four teams this spring including Vanderbilt, where they won 2-1, University of Southern Indiana, where they also won 2-0, University of Evansville and finally the University of Kentucky.

Spring games do not count toward the team’s record or the individual’s record. However this is a chance for freshmen and players who don’t usually get field time to practice their skills and show coaches their improvement.

“Freshmen who don’t get to play in the fall get to compete,” said Head Coach Jeremy Groves. “This is kind of a training and to see them how they play in game situations.”

Groves said the team has progressively done better with being consistent with their training and skill improvement.

With their last season posing as a turn around of wins, Groves said winning is a habit now and the team has to continue to want it. … Continue Reading

Track and field continue personal records

Elizabeth Leggett March 27, 2015 Athletics, Track and Field

The track and field outdoor season began for the Racers in rainy Tuscaloosa, Ala., at the Alabama Relays March 19. Despite unfavorable weather, the team left with two personal records and a career best.

Head Coach Jenny Severns said the Racers began their outdoor season with more enthusiasm than expected. The Racers sometimes have trouble differentiating between the indoor and outdoor season because the Racers train all year on an outdoor field. Severns said the biggest difference between the two is maintaining decent weather conditions.

“We look at it as one big season,” Severns said. “You work hard at the beginning of the year always and then when indoor season is over there is just a little more focus on outdoor. It’s not that it’s more important there just becomes more focus.”

With five years of coach experience at Murray State, Severns reflects on her and assistant coach Adam Kiesler’s first recruiting class and how several of those members are graduating.

“We’re losing a lot of fire power,” Severns said. “We’re going to take some tough losses, especially because this is our first recruiting class. The girls have done what we’ve asked of them and even though we weren’t very good when we recruited them they bought into the idea of coming onto the team to make it better.” … Continue Reading

Racer fans gather for food, festivities at Tequila Cowboy

Elizabeth Leggett March 12, 2015 Athletics, Basketball, Slider Featured stories
Jenny Rohl/The News Cheerleaders form a tunnel outside Tequila Cowboy March 7 in Nashville, Tenn., to welcome Racer fans to the Alumni Association’s pregame event.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Cheerleaders form a tunnel outside Tequila Cowboy March 7 in Nashville, Tenn., to welcome Racer fans to the Alumni Association’s pregame event.

Racer Nation took over Nashville, Tenn., this weekend, and the Alumni Association brought all the blue and gold to one location Saturday night before the championship game against Belmont. Before the heartbreaking loss, fans were hopeful as they crowded the upper level of Tequila Cowboy Bar and Grill to eat, drink and enjoy live music from the Racer Band.

Rachel Foley, the Racer to Racer Coordinator of Alumni Affairs, was pleased with  the turnout. In years past, the Alumni Association has held similar events at Bailey’s Sports Grille in downtown Nashville, Tenn. The Tequila Cowboy is kid-friendly and offered the chance for whole families to attend.

Free items such as rally towels, Koozies and Dunker signs were handed out, and the $10 cover charge covered the cost of pizza, salad and drinks. A signed basketball was also given away to one lucky fan in a drawing. Foley said she thought the snow combined with the Racers’ successful season is what brought so many Racer fans to Nashville, Tenn., for the weekend.

“Even though we had the snowstorm, with it being sunny and everything and the great season that we’ve had, I think that this is a far bigger crowd than we’ve ever had in the past,” Foley said.

Alumni and current students packed the balcony and the bar at Tequila Cowboy as they came together to celebrate the regular season and prepare for the final game of the tournament. Murray State alumni Chris and Lacosta Hays of Murray were also celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary March 7.

“These events are great,” Lacosta said. “It’s really great to get everybody together to come kind of rally and get ready for the big game. It’s just a great experience. With lots of fun things going on in Nashville, anyways, when Murray comes to Nashville it just brings it all together and makes it that much better.”

Win or lose, many Racer fans travel to watch the tournament every year. Aimee Graves, a second-year graduate student from Murray, has attended the OVC Tournament almost every year since her first time in 2001.

“I grew up doing it,” Graves said. “My grandparents used to have season tickets back in Racer Arena, so I was kind of indoctrinated very young into being a Murray State fan, and it just kind of stuck.”

Foley said that fans, such as Graves, are what make the basketball program and the University in general so special. Gathering to reminisce the past and support the future is what events like this pregame party are all about.

“I think that as Racer Nation, we’re a community and we stick together through everything,” Foley said. “And I think that whether our team does good or bad, we’re always there to support them. I just think that the crowd at tonight’s event goes to show the commitment that the community has to supporting the University and the team.”

Story by Mallory Tucker, Sports Editor

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