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Softball captures series victory over ULM

Teams split Sunday doubleheader

March 25, 2012 · Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The Middle Tennessee softball team defeated ULM 6-4 in the opening game of the their doubleheader on Sunday at Blue Raider Field.

Despite falling to the Warhawks in Game 2 by an 8-2 margin, the Blue Raiders clinched the three-game Sun Belt series, taking two of three from the visitors.

The victory in Game 1 did not come easy for Middle Tennessee as it was forced to overcome an early 4-0 deficit.

ULM took advantage of two Blue Raider errors and tallied three hits to take a 4-0 advantage after just one half inning. The big blow of the frame was Charlotte Pastor’s two-out, two-run double.

Middle Tennessee responded, however, with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first. Nina Davenport walked to lead off the inning and advanced to second on Nina Dever’s sacrifice bunt. Two batters later Kaycee Popham singled home Davenport to put the Blue Raiders on the board. After Natalie Ysais was hit by a pitch and Laura Dukes walked, Kelsey Woodruff recorded a run-scoring single of her own to make it 4-2.

Middle Tennessee tied the game two innings later when Woodruff delivered a two-out, two-run double which scored Popham and Kayla Toney and evened the contest at 4-4.

The Blue Raiders added another two runs in the fifth on Ysais’ two-run home run over the left field fence, giving Middle Tennessee its first lead of the day at 6-4. The lead would hold up as the Blue Raiders hung on for the two-run victory.

Middle Tennessee starter Shelby Stinnett settled down after the rocky first inning. The sophomore did not allow a run after the first, surrendering just two hits over her final six innings while having to pitch around a total of four Blue Raider errors.

The former Forrest High School Lady Rocket picked up the win for Middle Tennessee as she threw her fourth complete game of the season to improve to 4-2 on the year. Jessica Chastka received the loss in relief for the Warhawks, allowing three runs (one earned) over three innings pitched.

Woodruff led a balanced Blue Raider attack that saw six starters notch at least one hit on the afternoon. Pastor led the Warhawks at the plate, going 1-3 with her two-run double.

Middle Tennessee pitcher Caty Jutson and ULM starter Haylie Wilson engaged in a pitcher’s duel early in the second game of the day.

A Popham solo blast in the second and single runs in the first and third innings for ULM sent the game to the top of the fifth with the Warhawks holding a 2-1 lead.

ULM blew the game open in the fifth, however, with six runs on six hits and a couple of Middle Tennessee errors. Janel Salanoa’s two-run blast was the highlight of the frame for the Warhawks as they took an 8-1 lead.

The Blue Raiders tallied their second run of the game on Ysais’ sacrifice fly in the sixth, but it would not be enough as Middle Tennessee fell 8-2.

Wilson pitched all seven innings for ULM, giving up two runs on seven hits to claim the win. Jutson ended up allowing a total of seven runs in 4.2 innings pitched and took the loss.

Following the doubleheader split, Middle Tennessee now stands at 11-14 overall, 2-4 in the Sun Belt. Meanwhile ULM holds a record of 15-13, 3-6.

Popham and Ysais both notched a pair of hits and an RBI to guide the Blue Raiders offensively in Game 2. Salanoa, Alexis Cacioppo and Elena DiMattia each recorded three runs batted in for ULM.

“Overall, I am pleased with how we played today,” said Middle Tennessee head coach Sue Nevar. “We really hit the ball well, especially in the first game. We are starting to get contributions from a number of people offensively which is great to see. Our pitching also has gotten better. With the exception of a couple of innings in which our defense let us down, we played very well and I like where we are at heading into next week.”

Middle Tennessee will return to the diamond on Tuesday when it heads to face Jacksonville State for a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. CT.

Follow the Blue Raider softball team on Twitter @MT_Softball and on Facebook at the MTSU Softball page. Also, stay up-to-date on the team with the latest softball news and information at the brand-new “Softball Notebook” page which can be found here.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.