MURFREESBORO – The home opener for the Middle Tennessee softball team (10-9, 0-4 C-USA) got rained on in more ways than one Saturday, as the Blue Raiders dropped their first game at Blue Raider Softball Field 8-0 to Florida International.
The start time for the game was originally set for 2 p.m. CST, but inclement weather pushed the start all the way back to 9:30 p.m. CST.
MTSU’s home opener was originally scheduled for Mar. 4 against Tennessee State, but that game was postponed due to a wintry mix that hit the mid-state two weeks ago. That game was then moved to Mar. 12, but it again was again postponed due to rain.
The Blue Raiders finally took the field at home Saturday night, but the result was not what they wanted.
MTSU fell behind right out of the gate. FIU (17-10, 2-2 C-USA) plated two runs in the top of the first to give the Panthers an early 2-0 advantage.
The Panthers added four more runs in the second to put the game well out of reach for the Blue Raiders, giving FIU a commanding 6-0 lead.
Two more runs were tallied on by FIU in the fourth to produce the final score of 8-0. MTSU has now lost four of its last five games.
Freshman Cor’Nisha Birdsong continued her impressive work in her first season as a Blue Raider Saturday. She was the only Blue Raider to record a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 on the night. Her batting average is now a whopping .450 this season.
Sophomore Lauren Riddell and seniors Samantha Nieves and Alma Cortez were the only other Blue Raiders to get in the hit column. Nieves went 1-for-1, while Riddell and Cortez both went 1-for-2.
MTSU managed just five hits in the game, but had chances to score. The Blue Raiders left six runners on base in the game. They had runners on the corners in the first inning with two outs, but junior Megan Griffith grounded out to third to end the scoring chance.
Cortez tripled to start the home half of the third, but three-consecutive Blue Raiders failed to drive her in.
Gabby Spallone drove in three in the game for the Panthers on a 3-for-3 night. Aleima Lopez (0-for-2), Shelby Graves (1-for-3) and Dominique Grossman (0-for-2) all recorded an RBI. Ashley Leon had a 2-for-4 night for FIU.
Junior Kelci Cheney (6-6) picked up the loss for MTSU. Cheney had a tough night on the mound, allowing six runs (four of them earned) on five hits in just one inning before being pulled in the second without recording an out. Senior Caitlin McClure relieved Cheney, throwing four innings, and giving up two runs (one earned) on one hit.
FIU’s Corinne Jenkins (10-6) earned the win. Jenkins threw a complete-game five-hit shutout for the Panthers.
The two teams will play a doubleheader on Sunday. The first pitch for the first game is scheduled for 10 a.m. CST.
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