MT Softball falls to Kennesaw State, Memphis

Late innings doom Blue Raiders

February 7, 2014 · @MTAthletics

TROY, Ala. - The Middle Tennessee softball team (0-2) lost its first game of the season 14-12 against the Kennesaw State Owls in late innings before losing its second game 3-2 in the seventh inning to Memphis at the Troy Subway Invitational.

The Blue Raiders were led by two freshmen on the first day of the 2014 slate. Marinna Shadley accounted for five of the Blue Raiders 17 hits for a .714 batting average, while Austyn Whaley added three hits and the lone offense in game two against Memphis with a two-run home run. Senior Nina Dever helped start the offensive attack against Kennesaw State after hitting a three-run home run in the first inning. Kayla Toney added to the Middle Tennessee power numbers with a three-run shot of her own late in game one.

Game one:
The Blue Raiders tallied four extra-base hits in the first inning of a power match between Kennesaw State and Middle Tennessee. With two runners on, Dever launched a three-run home run to give MT an early 3-0 lead. Shadley reached base with her first collegiate hit and Niki Campbell then laced a double to score Shadley. Whaley got into the mix with a double of her own, plating Campbell. Fellow freshman McKena Miller punched a double to left field and put Middle Tennessee up 6-0.

The Blue Raiders pushed its lead up to 8-1 after adding one run in the top of the second and another in the top of the fourth. Kennesaw State found its offensive rhythm in the closing innings, scoring six runs in the fourth to narrow the MT lead to 8-7.

Toney hit her three-run blast in the top of the fifth to add momentum back on the Blue Raiders side, but not for long. KSU again terrorized the MT pitching staff, scoring four more runs to tie the score at 11-all heading into the top of the sixth.

After Middle Tennessee added another run in the sixth, KSU put three runs together in the bottom of the inning. The Blue Raiders could not produce the offensive firepower to pull the lead back within their favor, resulting in the 14-12 decision.

Caitlin McClure was tagged with the loss. Dever, Toney, Nieves, and Whaley each finished with two hits, while Dever, Toney and Whaley had four, three and two RBI, respectively.

Game two:
Game two for the Blue Raiders did not have the same offensive firepower that was produced in the first game against KSU.

McClure again was handed the pitching duties and found herself in some trouble early. The inning started off with a single by Memphis' Lindsey Crowdus up the middle and a sacrifice bunt to advance Crowdus to second. Brittany Vaughn lifted a double to right center, plating Crowdus. Next up for the Tigers was Kelly Braman, who like Vaughn, laced a double to put Memphis up 2-0 early.

McClure pitched her way out of the first and capped the inning off by striking out the final Memphis' batter. She went on to hold the Tiger offense at bay for the next six innings before being pulled in favor of Shelby Stinnett in the seventh.

MT did not find any offense early and only accounted for four hits through five innings. In the sixth inning with one runner on Whaley hit a two-run home run that tied the score at 2-2.

After a quick final out by MT, it was Memphis' turn to take a stab at winning the game. McClure faced the first batter of the inning and gave up a single to left field, at which point Stinnett came in relief. The Tigers used small-ball tactics and advanced the runner to second on a sacrifice bunt.

Memphis went to its bench and used a pinch hitter, who ground out to the second baseman and advanced the runner to third. The Tigers' Ijiah Hargrove hit a single to left, giving Memphis the 3-2 advantage.

McClure was handed her second loss of the day after pitching six strong innings in game two, allowing three earned runs while striking out one.

Middle Tennessee will play two more games tomorrow against North Florida at 1:30 p.m. and No. 6/6 Alabama at 7:30 p.m. Live updates are available by following @MT_Softball on Twitter.

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