By Steven Johnson/Contributing Writer
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – While the Blue Raiders’ bats struggled to generate offense in game one of their doubleheader against Southern Miss Sunday, they certainly came to life in game two.
The win in game two gave MTSU (16-24, 3-17 C-USA) a 5-2 victory over its conference foe, and most importantly, it put the Blue Raiders in position to clinch their first Conference USA series win, with a victory on Monday.
The Blue Raiders rebounded after dropping game one, 3-1, to Southern Miss (17-27, 3-14 C-USA).
MTSU relied on the play of Carlie Jenkins and Morgan Harris in the on Sunday. The two finished a combined 8-for-12 on the day, and Jenkins knocked in a RBI.
Kelci Cheney became the first Blue Raider to reach the double-digit win mark since 2010 with her win in game two, improving her record to 10-13 on the season.
Pitching was the theme for game one, as both teams went four-consecutive innings without scoring a run.
In the fifth inning, Southern Miss’ Katie Cleary got the Golden Eagles on the board first. Morgan Mckeever knocked a single into center field to put a runner in scoring position, and Cleary did the rest, knocking out her first career home run to give the Golden Eagles a 2-0 lead.
Two runs would be all USM needed as the Blue Raiders struggled driving runners home in the first game.
With runners on the corner in the sixth inning, the Blue Raiders recorded their only run of the game after Lauren Riddel singled to left field and scored Harris from third.
The Golden Eagles got the run back in the bottom of the inning, with Kaelyn Christofferson’s RBI double to push the lead back to two, 3-1.
USM’s starter Shelbee Rodgers finished off a complete game in the seventh inning to preserve the win for the Golden Eagles.
While Rodger’s pitching stifled the Blue Raiders in game one, game two would be a different story.
MTSU used timely offense and a strong showing from Cheney to tie the series up at one apiece.
Austyn Whaley got the scoring started in the top of the second inning, as she knocked in Jenkins from third with a RBI single to center field.
The Blue Raiders would not score again until the top of the fourth, as Jenkins came up big with a RBI single that platted Alma Cortez. This gave the Blue Raiders a 2-0 lead.
The Golden Eagles responded in the bottom of the fifth with a RBI single.
The Blue Raiders stretched their lead to 4-1 in the top of the sixth behind Cortez’s two-RBI single.
With a three-run lead in the bottom of the inning, Cheney came up clutch. With the score 4-2, and the Golden Eagles threatening with the bases loaded, Cheney secured the third out with an infield pop-up to Samantha Nieves.
The Blue Raiders scored again in the top of the seventh to increase the lead to 5-2 and secure Cheney her 10th victory of the season.
The series finale will start at 11 a.m. CST, as MTSU goes for its first C-USA series of the season.
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