MURRAY—The Racers put up a season-high 14 runs and hit two grand slams for the first time in program history as they cruised to a 14-4 five-inning victory over the Eagles on a Friday evening in front of the Racer faithful in Murray, Kentucky.
“This is what it’s all about. It’s about coming out here as a softball family…we got to have all the parents here and things like that – this is what it’s about,” said MSU head coach Kara Amundson. “That’s why we do it, and it was a blast.”
The Racers put the pedal to the metal in their first offensive opportunity as Murray State took a commanding lead in the early stages thanks to a six-run first inning.
Sierra Gilmore kicked things off when her RBI double scored Lily Fischer to give the Racers a 1-0 lead with one out in the opening frame. Morehead State would issue walks to the next three Racer batters as Logan Braundmeier, Lindsey Carroll, and Bryce Adkinson each earned a free pass, with Adkinson’s forcing in the second run of the day. With the bases still loaded, Murray State’s all-time leader in grand slams added another to her tally as Lexi Jones cleared the bases for the fifth grand slam of her career as the Racers held a 6-0 lead after one complete. The no-doubter also marked her 25th home run in a Racer uniform as she moved into a tie with Casey Castile for number five on the program’s all-time list.
While the Eagles did cut the deficit in half with three of their own in the top of the second, the Racers picked up right where they left off in the home half as they plated four more runs in response.
Braundmeier laced a double to right center to score Fischer before Adkinson drew yet another bases-loaded walk two batters later to make it 8-3 with just one out in the inning. Jenna Bleiberg capped off the scoring in the second, driving in her first runs of the season when her two-out single up the middle scored a pair to make it 10-3 Racers after two.
Morehead State was able to scratch across another in the third, but the Racers still had a comfortable six-run cushion as the game entered the home half of the inning.
After Tyler Shemwell and Jensen Striegel singled to open the fourth, Lily Fischer was hit by her team-leading 14th pitch of the season to load the bases for Gilmore. One swing of the bat meant four more Racer runs as the Williamsburg, Indiana native launched her fifth home run of season, marking the first time Murray State has hit two grand slams as a team in a single game as they led 14-4 through four innings of action.
Hannah James then retired the side in order in the fifth to bring the contest to an early end as the Racers secured the victory by mercy rule after five frames.
James would notch her eighth win of the season after tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief. She collected two strikeouts while surrendering just one hit in the outing.
Taylor Makowsky, fanned three batters in 2 1/3 frames after getting the starting nod in the circle for Murray State.
At the plate, the 14 Racer runs came on nine hits, with Sierra Gilmore leading the way with a perfect 3-3 performance that featured five RBI and three runs scored to accompany the aforementioned double and grand slam. In total, seven different Racers collected a hit in the victory.
“We’re lucky. I’ll never forget having to tell those kids that we couldn’t play last year,” said Amundson. ”Getting out here and being able to compete and create that family atmosphere again…we didn’t take it for granted, and we’re looking forward to the future of Racer softball.”
Game Two - MSU 5, Morehead State 1
The Racers picked up right where they left off in Friday’s 14-4 victory when they stayed aggressive offensively with a pair of runs in the opening frame.
Sierra Gilmore’s one-out double drove in Lily Fischer for the first Racer run, before a perfectly-executed first and third double steal saw Gilmore cross the plate later in the inning as Murray State owned a 2-0 advantage through the end of one complete.
The score would remain unchanged until the home half of the fourth when the Racer bats generated two more runs – this time courtesy of a Jordan Childress pinch-hit double that scored a pair to extend the Murray State lead to 4-0 through four innings of action.
The Eagles did get one back in the sixth when Jennifer Clausen’s two-out RBI single made it 4-1, but the Racers responded with another run of their own in the bottom half when Kamryn Carcich launched her first home run in a Racer uniform – a solo shot that restored the Racers’ four-run cushion.
Jenna Veber cruised through a 1-2-3 seventh in the circle, and the Racers secured a 5-1 victory to win their seventh OVC series of the season.
The five Racer runs came on seven hits, with Lily Fischer (2-3, R) and Sierra Gilmore (2-3, RBI, R, 2B, SB) each turning in a multi-hit performance. Childress’ double and Carcich’s home run accounted for the other two Murray State extra-base hits in the contest.
Hannah James earned her ninth victory of the season, tossing five scoreless frames while surrendering just two hits and striking out four Eagle batters.
Jenna Veber went the rest of the way, striking out one while allowing just the single run in two innings of relief.
Game Three - MSU 1, Morehead State 0 (8 inn.)
The final contest of the campaign saw the Racers head to extra innings for the seventh time in 2021.
Hannah James recorded 11 of the first 12 outs by way of strikeout, but one of those 11 would be much more significant than the rest. When the Nicholasville, Kentucky native set down Morehead State’s Maddie Kawall on strikes in the second frame, she recorded her 149th strikeout of the season – setting a new Murray State single-season program record. The previous record of 148 from 2013 was held by CheyAnne Gaskey.
James carried a no-hit bid into the seventh, but a Josie Wefer double to open the frame spoiled the effort. James would keep the shutout intact when she retired the next three Eagle batters in order as the game remained scoreless through the top of the seventh.
Lindsey Carroll reached on an error by the Eagle shortstop in the home half, and would even reach third with two outs in the inning, but the game’s first run was left stranded 60 feet away as the season finale required extra innings to decide a winner.
Jenna Veber entered to pitch the eighth and retired three-straight batters to keep the Eagles off the board in their first opportunity in extra innings.
After Jensen Striegel drew a lead-off walk in the home half, she stole second and then scored the game’s winning run by way of a Logan Braundmeier base hit through the left side as the Racers earned a 1-0 victory in walk-off fashion.
Hannah James dealt seven scoreless innings of one-hit softball while tying a career high with 13 strikeouts in the contest as the new Murray State single-season record now stands at 158. Veber would be credited with her eighth win of the season for her stellar outing in relief.
Five different Racers collected a hit in the season finale, with Kamryn Carcich (2-3) leading the way with a two-hit performance.
The Racers end the season at 22-19 overall that includes a 19-15 mark against OVC competition. n