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Darlington Leads Blue Raiders to Victory

MT continues drive to .500

March 21, 2007 · David Powell
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Whitney Darlington had three hits and Lindsey Vander Lugt gave up just one run and struck out six batters as the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (15-16) beat the Bradley Braves (12-7) at Blue Raider Field on Wednesday, 4-1.

The Blue Raiders were attempting to build off a dramatic, 12th inning victory over Southeast Missouri on Tuesday.

Blue Raider starter Vander Lugt (11-10) got the win, putting in a strong performance in a complete game effort.

Ashley Birdsong (9-4) started the game for the Braves and picked up the loss, giving up ten hits and four runs, while striking out five and walking one over 6.0 innings.

Vander Lugt started out strong for MT, striking out both Janay Mitchell and Miriam Wegmann before causing Elizabeth Wilson to ground out to the shortstop to end the inning without Bradley getting on base.

The Blue Raiders got on the board early when Martha Davis, starting the day fifth in the Sun Belt Conference with a .354 batting average, pelted a two-out pitch beyond the left field fence for a homerun. The next batter, Muriel Ledbetter, drove a ball through the left side for a single, but Katie Mielke struck out to end the inning with the Blue Raiders leading 1-0.

After holding the Braves hitless in the top of the 2nd, the Blue Raiders added another run in their half of the inning. Justine Cerda grounded out before Whitney Darlington singled to the shortstop, stole second base and advanced to third base on a passed ball to put her in scoring position.

Melissa Weiland fell behind early in the count and struck out, but the Bradley catcher, Wegmann, dropped the ball and had to throw it to first base to get Weiland out. During the play, Darlington snuck across the plate to put the Blue Raiders up 2-0. Shelby Stiner was caught stealing to end the inning.

"The last 10 games she [Whitney Darlington] has not played well. We sat her down yesterday and she didn't like that and today she responded," said Head Coach Leigh Podlesny.

Bradley got on the scoreboard in the 3rd inning in what would be their only run of the contest. Alycia Bachkora led off with a single to center field before Katy Dammer struck out swinging. Amanda Clack singled to second base, driving in Bachkora and cutting the MT lead to 2-1. Janay Mitchell hit a sacrifice bunt to advance Clack to second base before Wegmann grounded out to end the inning.

Darlington led off the 4th inning for the home team with a double to put another runner in scoring position. Weiland reached first base and advanced to second base on an error by the shortstop and Darlington scored on the play to increase the Blue Raider lead to 3-1. Martha Davis would eventually strike out to end the inning.

The Blue Raider arsenal continued its bombardment when Muriel Ledbetter doubled to center field to start the MT half of the 5th inning. Mielke advanced Ledbetter to third base with a sacrifice bunt and pinch hitter Jessica Ives struck out before Darlington drove in Ledbetter, widening the lead to 4-1 in favor of the Blue Raiders.

Both teams would combine for just two hits over the final two innings as Middle Tennessee moved within one game of .500 looking ahead to this weekends' series with the South Alabama Jaguars.

Whitney Darlington was the "GoBlueRaiders.com Player of the Game" with three hits, two runs scored and one RBI.

Middle Tennessee takes on South Alabama in a three-game series this weekend, starting Saturday at 1 PM. The second game of the doubleheader is set for 3PM. The Blue Raiders conclude the series, Sunday at Noon.

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