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Marquez’ walk-off single gives softball 2-1 win in nine

Pitching, defense lead Blue Raiders

April 18, 2012 · Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Middle Tennessee third baseman Kristi Marquez punched a one-out single to left field to score Samantha Nieves from third and give the Blue Raiders a 2-1, nine inning victory over FIU on Wednesday afternoon at Blue Raider Field.

In a series dominated by pitching, the game went to the bottom of the ninth tied 1-1. Samantha Nieves reached base on an error by Panther first baseman Shelby Graves to get the inning started. She then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Shelby Stinnett before taking third on a wild pitch. A Katherine Tucker walk put runners on first and third with one out, setting the stage for Marquez. The junior from Del Ray Beach, Fla., promptly hit the first pitch she saw from FIU pitcher Jenn Gniadek through the hole on the left side to give Middle Tennessee the 2-1 walk-off win.

“Obviously it is huge for us getting the monkey off our back,” said Middle Tennessee head coach Sue Nevar. “We really came out and competed hard today and it was clear that this game meant a lot to our players. I am extremely proud of the way we pitched and played defensively. We still need to get back to hitting like we were earlier this year, but I am confident that will come.”

The game began with both teams going scoreless through the first three frames as Blue Raider starter Caitlin McClure and FIU pitcher Mariah Dawson pitched in and out of jams.

The Blue Raiders broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth when Kelsey Woodruff doubled home Natalie Ysais from first base, putting Middle Tennessee up 1-0 after four innings.

The Panthers responded in the top of the fifth on a Jessy Alfonso run-scoring single to center field to even the game at 1-1.

FIU threatened to take the lead in the top of the sixth, putting a pair of runners on with just one out. Caty Jutson then relieved McClure in the circle and got Gniadek to strike out swinging and A.J. Woodward to ground out to end the threat.

Neither squad was able to produce any type of rally as the game advanced into extra innings still even at 1-1. The Blue Raiders finally created a scoring chance in the bottom of the eighth when Nina Dever doubled and Ysais reached on a walk. A wild pitch allowed both runners to advance a base and put runners on second and third with just one out. Kaycee Popham grounded out to third and Woodruff fouled out, however, to end the inning.

Jutson sat down the Panthers in order in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for the game’s dramatic conclusion in the bottom of the frame.

With the victory, Middle Tennessee upped its record to 13-27, 3-12 while FIU fell to 24-20, 12-7.

Jutson threw 3.2 innings of shutout relief to earn the victory while Gniadek gave up just one run in 4.1 innings pitched to get the defeat.

Dever and Nina Davenport both went 2-4 on the day to help propel the Blue Raider offense. The Panthers were led by Graves who went 3-3 at the dish.

The Blue Raiders will head down to face Troy this weekend in a three-game Sun Belt series beginning Saturday.

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.

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