Blue Raiders take double-header over Alabama A&M

Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor

Behind two solid pitching performances by Cori Jennings and Gretchen Greer, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders added two wins to their record against the Alabama A&M Bulldogs at the Blue Raider Softball field in Murfreesboro, extending their winning streak to four straight games.

For game one, Middle Tennessee turned to their pitching ace in search of a shutdown outing.

Game one

Jennings impresses with ten strikeouts

Jennings was in the circle for game one and shined once again, as she allowed no runs off two hits while striking out ten batters in her eight innings of work. Jennings now has ten wins on the season, and she is one strikeout away from 100 strikeouts on the season.

The Bush Creek, TN native continues to give the Blue Raiders solid start after solid start and for the rest of the rotation, it gives them growing confidence in not just Jennings’ talent, but in their own as well.

“It does us a lot of good because we don’t have to rely on just one pitcher,” Greer said. “If you look at our E.R.A., we all have had solid  performances this year.”

Kirstyn Cuccia walks off in extras

With both teams locked in a scoreless battle in extras, MT turned to an unlikely hero for a spark in the bottom of the eighth. With the game hanging in the balance and a 1-0 count in her favor, sophomore Kirstyn Cuccia blasted the ball over the right field fence to give the Blue Raiders a 1-0 walk-off win.

“It definitely increased our energy a lot,” Cuccia said. “I knew we were going to win the next one too, but that one helped out a lot.”

Cuccia’s homer was her first of the season and it was also the first one hit by a Blue Raider in Murfreesboro this year.

Final Stats

After coming out with the victory in game one, the Blue Raiders came out with the same style of game for the second act.

Game two

Greer goes in the record books

Greer pitched in the circle in game two for the Blue Raiders, and the junior from Collinwood, TN made it a night to remember. Greer allowed no runs off four hits and struck out 13 batters in her seven innings of work. With her season-high for single-game strikeouts, this also marks the highest number of strikeouts in a game for a Blue Raider pitcher since 2010.

Greer hopes to take what she did in this game and replicate it going forward, especially this late in the season.

“I think it is very good, momentum-wise,” Greer said of her second straight shutout. “I try to do my best and make my pitches work.”

After struggling the last couple of weeks, Greer has given the Blue Raiders a great second option in the pitching rotation with a couple great outings. She’s expected this much out of herself, as she knows just how talented she is.

“That’s very exciting for me cause that means I’m getting back to where I need to be,” Greer said. “I’ve went through a rough patch right there, but to make seven innings and especially seven inning shutouts it’s very exciting.

And that isn’t lost on the head coach either.

“Cori and Gretchen have done a good job all year long for us,” Head coach Jeff Breeden said. “We have have confidence in both of them, we play great defense behind both of  them, and all of our pitching staff… Coach [Tony] Foti  done a good them and we’re pleased with our pitching staff in general.”

Slatter started with power

Freshman Kaylyn Slatter went 2-for-3 in the game with a solo home run, her second of the season, to center field to give the Blue Raiders a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth.

Despite having a great power game, Slatter kept her approach at the plate simple and it paid off for her team.

“I basically just wanted to get on base,” Slatter said. “I was thinking base hit, base hit, base hit, and trying to score runs for my team.”

Energy has been key for the team this year, and her home run did a lot for the team to get them fired up.

“What it did for my team [the home run] it fired them up,” Saltter said. ” It basically started a fire under us, and we started hitting the ball more and scoring runs.”

Final stats game two

What’s Next?

The Blue Raiders will be back in action on Saturday with a double-header against Marshall at home. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.

Follow MTSU Softball beat writers Cody Strickler (@CodyStricklerSL) and Nick Hardin (@nlhardin2) on Twitter for more coverage.

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