MURAY — Murray State softball opened a six-game homestand on Friday by splitting an OVC doubleheader against Tennessee Tech. The Racers dropped the first contest 4-1 before winning a nine-inning nightcap thriller 3-2 to even the weekend series at Racer Field.
“We’re in a spot where we’re kind of in a must-win scenario with a different type of conference tournament this year. Every time we’re stepping on the field right now matters, so for us to come out with one of the two today is a big deal,” MSU head coach Kara Amundson said afterwards.
A four-run second inning for Tennessee Tech would be the difference in the first game of the day as the Racer bats struggled to get anything going offensively.
Murray State’s best chance to get back into the game came in the sixth inning when a Sierra Gilmore RBI double scored Logan Braundmeier as the Racers cut the deficit to three runs with runners on second and third with no outs. Lily Fischer was thrown out at the plate trying to score from third on a ground ball off the bat of Kamryn Carcich in the next at-bat, before Haeli Bryson worked out of the jam in the circle for TTU to stymie the Racer comeback effort.
Murray State’s one run came on five hits, with five different Racers collecting a hit in the contest. Sierra Gilmore was responsible for the lone RBI, while her double served as the only MSU extra-base hit in the outing. Braundmeier (1-3, BB, R) reached base twice and stole a base in addition to scoring the Racer run.
Taylor Makowsky tossed 5.2 innings of one-hit softball in a relief appearance, striking out four Golden Eagle batters on the day.
Having come up empty in four extra-inning opportunities in 2021 entering the weekend, the Racers broke that trend while also snapping a seven-game losing streak when they won the second contest in nine innings.
Hannah James found her rhythm in the circle early on for Murray State as the junior faced just one batter over the minimum through the first three innings of action.
While TTU plated the first run of the contest in the top of the fourth, the Racers answered right back in the home half when Lily Fischer blasted her fourth homer of the season to even it up.
The score remained unchanged until the home half of the sixth when the Racers took their first lead courtesy of a Braundmeier solo shot. Her fourth round-tripper of 2021 gave her side a 2-1 advantage as the contest wound down.
The rollercoaster of a contest would need more than seven frames to decide a winner, however, after TTU’s Carmen Betts belted a solo shot of her own to knot the game at 2-2 in the seventh.
It would take until the ninth frame, but it was Murray State who made the breakthrough in dramatic fashion after Lexi Jones reached base with a two-out single down the left field line to keep the inning alive for the Racers. The ensuing at-bat featured a routine ground ball to the left side of the infield off the bat of Taylor Jackson, but the Golden Eagle shortstop’s throw pulled the first baseman off the bag, causing a collision with Jackson as she ran down to first. With the throw getting away, Lexi Jones was able to bolt around the bases and score the game-winning run all the way from first as the Racers prevailed with a 3-2 win in nine innings.
James dealt seven strong innings, surrendering just two earned runs while striking out four, while Jenna Veber earned the win with two shutout innings in relief.
The three Racer runs came on seven hits, with Braundmeier leading the way with a 3-4 performance that featured the home run and a pair of stolen bases.
The Racers will wrap up the weekend series with the Golden Eagles today in a single contest with a 3 p.m. first pitch.