Story by Britton Barnette / Contributing Writer
In a game that was largely impacted by high wind speeds, freshman Ava Tepe led the Blue Raiders to 14 runs against an SEC opponent that hasn’t allowed more than nine runs since early February.
“[Ava] Tepe definitely played awesome tonight,” said Blue Raiders head coach Jeff Breeden. “She’s on fire. Denise had two sacrifice flies, she played good. Mealer was great. We inflicted a little bit of pain on ourselves by walking people and making a few errors.”
Freshman Claire Czajkowski led all Blue Raiders with four runs scored off of three hits, and freshman Laura Mealer nabbed three RBIs with a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth.
Tepe scored her career-high in RBIs with three.
The wind was the story of the game as the home plate umpire frequently stopped the game to wait for the wind to slow down enough to allow a pitch to be thrown.
“We knew it was going to be a problem today.” said Breeden, “I know I wouldn’t wanna be a pitcher today for sure. The wind pushes your ball, and then, you saw, all you have to do is [hit] the ball up and as long as you get it into the jet stream it was going out.”
Mississippi State hit six home runs with the wind, and the Blue Raiders hit one as well.
“Some of those balls that they hit, I thought they were routine outs but then they ended up in the parking lot.”
Mississippi State opened the game by scoring seven runs in the first two innings while holding the Blue Raiders to one.
The Blue Raiders went into the bottom of the third inning down 7-1, but then the offense clicked. It started with Kelci Hill being sent home on a Czajkowski bomb to center field, and after that the runs started pouring in. Eventually, a sacrifice fly by freshman Anyce Harvey sent Shelby Sargent home to score the sixth run of the inning, and tie the game up at seven a piece.
The game continued to be back and forth, and with the Blue Raiders down 12-10 in the bottom of the sixth, Laura Mealer hit a three run homer to give the Blue Raiders a 13-12 lead heading into Mississippi State’s final at-bat. The Bulldogs’ bats caught fire in the top of the seventh where they scored seven runs to take an insurmountable 19-13 lead, and the win.
“I think this whole game tonight is gonna get us ready to go for the weekend,” said Breeden. “Because Mississippi State is a good team and they’re coming from the SEC. We brought an SEC team in here to experience that with our kids, at home, and let our fans see that opponent at our place. I think it was a win-win for everybody.”
“I really couldn’t do it without my teammates in the dugout,” said Ava Tepe on her career night in RBIs. “The whole game it was energy the whole time.”
“I’m really proud of this team and the way we fought the whole game,” said Tepe. “Laura Mealer did a great job at the plate, and Anyce Harvey came in with two RBIs. It was a very good team game, and I’m very happy with the way we played tonight.”
The Blue Raiders return to conference play this weekend as Florida Atlantic comes to Murfreesboro on Friday in the first game of a three-game game series.