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Softball stops Rattlers 3-1 for third-straight victory

McClure earns second win of the season

February 16, 2014 · @MTAthletics

ORLANDO, Fla. - Middle Tennessee (4-6) added two insurance runs in the seventh and used strong pitching by Caitlin McClure and Shelby Stinnett to shutdown Florida A&M (1-8) 3-1 to its third-straight victory.

The last time MT won at least three games in a row was March 21-25, 2012. The Blue Raiders won two games against Evansville March 21st by scores of 5-2 and 1-0, then beat ULM March 24th 1-0 and March 25th 4-0, before losing the last game of the double header March 25th 6-4.

MT finished the UCF tournament 3-2, dropping game one and game two against James Madison and UCF by scores of 3-1 and 2-1, respectively. Kayla Toney provided the offensive lift that the Blue Raiders needed throughout the tournament, finishing 10-for-18 at the plate with two RBI and improving her season batting average to a team-high .394.

Neither team Sunday found a way to score until the top of the fifth when Middle Tennessee was aided by the Florida A&M pitching staff. After allowing a leadoff walk to Austyn Whaley, FAMU made a pitching change to Amber Fullwood. Fullwood in her first at bat released a wild pitch which advanced Whaley to second. A McKena Miller ground out put Whaley on third and a second wild pitch gave Middle Tennessee a 1-0 lead.

Starting Middle Tennessee pitcher McClure pitched into the sixth inning and shutdown the Rattler attack, which included four three-and-out innings before being pulled in favor of Stinnett. Stinnett pitched the final 1.1 innings for the Blue Raiders, getting MT out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth when FAMU tagged three hits.

In the seventh inning with MT holding the narrow 1-0 lead, the Blue Raiders added two insurance runs. Marinna Shadley received the free pass to first and pinch hitter Niki Campbell advanced Shadley to second on a sacrifice bunt. Miller doubled down the left field line to plate one run and then Toney hit a double to left center, which scored Miller.

Holding the 3-0 lead, MT needed to close out the seventh to earn its first three-game win streak in over a year. Stinnett opened the inning with a strike out for out number one. FAMU then laid down a bunt single to third to have its first runner of the inning. The next batter reached on a throwing error and advanced to third while the Blue Raiders tagged the lead runner out at home. The Rattlers' Miesha McBride singled through the left side for the lone FAMU run. Stinnett forced the last batter to ground out to Samantha Nieves at short to give MT the 3-1 victory.

McClure earned her second win of the season pitching 5.2 innings with no earned runs and four strikeouts. Stinnett pitched the final 1.1 innings for her second save of the season and tournament, while striking out two. Toney and Miller each finished 2-for-3 at the plate, both recording a RBI.

Middle Tennessee will be back in action Friday against Radford at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn.

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