MT softball set to battle in Orlando

Blue Raiders to compete in second tournament of 2014

February 13, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee softball team (1-4) ventures to the state of Florida to compete in the UCF Holiday Inn Classic Tournament Feb. 14-16 in Orlando, Fla. The tournament features five other teams, which include James Madison (1-4), UCF (3-0), UIC (1-4), Delaware (1-4) and Florida A&M (1-4).

The Blue Raiders open the three-day tournament against James Madison at 12:30 p.m. and cap the first day by playing tournament host UCF at 5 p.m. The following day has Middle Tennessee facing UIC at 8 a.m. and Delaware at 12:30 p.m. On Sunday, MT plays FAMU at 10 a.m. to close out the tournament.

"We feel pretty good going into this weekend," said head coach Jeff Breeden. "We basically need to worry about ourselves and continue to hit the ball, which we did last weekend. Our pitching staff has to be more consistent with their performances and we need to sure things up defensively. We can't have 15 errors this weekend. All in all we feel pretty good going down there."

Middle Tennessee is fresh off the Troy Subway Invitational, finishing with a 1-4 record and a 12-7 win over Northwestern State. The Blue Raiders used two large innings to jump past the Lady Demons last Sunday, thanks in large part to a total team effort.

LaRi Mitchell accounted for a career-high four RBI on 3-for-3 hitting. Samantha Nieves added two RBI, while Kayla Toney and McKena Miller added one each. Shelby Stinnett started inside the circle for Middle Tennessee, pitching three innings with three runs allowed. Jordyn Fisherback came in relief in the top of the fourth with no outs and paced the Blue Raiders the rest of the way to their first win of the season.

MT opened the weekend 0-4 with loses to Kennesaw State (14-12) and Memphis (3-2) on Friday and North Florida (2-0) and Alabama (9-1) on Saturday. In the opener against KSU, MT jumped out to an early 6-0 lead on the Owls but got into trouble late. With the score knotted at 11-all heading into the top of the sixth, the Blue Raiders scored the go-ahead run, but let Kennesaw State plate three in the bottom half. The Owls held the 14-12 advantage through the top of the seventh to hand MT its first loss of the season.

Against Memphis, MT fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first. The score stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth, when freshman Austyn Whaley hit a two-run home run to tie the score. The Tigers added another run in the top of the seventh to close Middle Tennessee's opening day at 0-2.

Saturday had the Blue Raiders face two of the top pitchers in their respective conferences. North Florida was the only team to hold Middle Tennessee scoreless over the weekend with UNF starting pitcher Cortney Radke pitching all seven innings, while allowing only two hits.

MT played then-No. 6/6 Alabama to cap Saturday and received a lone home run by Kayla Toney in the bottom of the sixth. It was not enough as the Tide collected 13 total hits on their way to the 9-1 victory. UA starting pitcher Sydney Littlejohn pitched all 6.0 innings and allowed only two hits with the other coming from the hands of freshman Marinna Shadley.

Shadley finished the tournament 6-for-17 and was named to the Troy Subway Invitational All-Tournament Team. She finished the first day of competition 5-for-7 at the plate with a season-best three hits with one RBI coming against Kennesaw State.

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