Lady Raiders set sites on highest SBC softball finish everMay 3, 2004 · MT Media Relations
After suffering a pair of one-run losses Saturday, Middle Tennessee broke out the bats in the opener of Sunday's doubleheader at Florida International, collecting nine hits and scoring in four straight innings on the way to an important 8-2 win. The Lady Raiders are in second place with one regular-season series remaining next weekend against Louisiana-Lafayette. Their highest finish as a member of the SBC is third in 2003.
The second game was a contrast of game one as Florida International took a 1-0 decision. The Lady Raiders came out of the weekend 31-17 overall, 11-5 in the Sun Belt Conference race.
"We played hard and competed in all four games this weekend and had a chance to win all four," Lady Raiders coach Cindy Connelley said. "Losing three one-run games is hard to take, especially when two of them were 1-0 losses, but we played well for the most part and we still have a chance to earn the No. 2 seed for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, which is a positive."
After being moved into the leadoff spot in the order, Lady Raider senior shortstop Kristina Hieb led the hit parade with her first three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-4 with two RBI. Brittany Herald also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a run scored, and senior second baseman Cortney Mitchell belted her 24th double of the season.
"The players came out with a positive frame of mind and they were aggressive at the plate," Connelley said. "Kristina Hieb did a great job setting the table at the top of the order and we were able to put together big innings by getting contributions up and down the lineup."
Herald picked up the win to improve to 4-1 by hurling seven innings of five-hit softball, striking out seven and allowing no earned runs. Key in Herald's success was not allowing the Golden Panthers to put together more than one hit in any inning.
Middle Tennessee broke open a scoreless game with a four-run fourth as 10 Lady Raiders made their way to the plate. The pivotal inning was highlighted by RBIs from Hieb, Leah Grothause, Melissa Weiland and Angie Huebner.
Middle Tennessee came back with a two in the fifth and single runs in the sixth and seventh to secure the win.
While the offense was flowing in the first game of the doubleheader, it was not as prevalent in the nightcap as the Lady Raiders had difficulties with Florida International lefty Amanda Nealer for the second straight day. Nealer limited the Lady Raiders to one hit Sunday in the 1-0 win. She allowed just two hits in the second game of Satuday's doubleheader to lead the Golden Panthers to a 1-0 win. Middle Tennessee was 7-0 against left-handers this season before Nealer shut the Lady Raiders out twice during the weekend.
Weiland collected Middle Tennessee's only hit, a leadoff single in the third. The Lady Raiders' only other base runner came in the sixth when a pitch hit Brandy Davis. Freshman pitcher Ashley Frizzell was the hard-luck loser for the second time in as many days. She allowed four hits in three innings before Crystal Bobo came on to finish the game. Bobo surrendered two hits in her three innings of work.
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