Sunday, October 1, 2023

MTSU Softball’s walk-off home run evens series against Owls


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Story by Quenterious Mabone / Contributing Writer

After dropping the first game of the series, the Blue Raiders defeated Florida Atlantic 4-3 after freshman short stop Laura Mealer’s walk off in the seventh inning on Saturday.

Middle Tennessee (16-20, 3-5 C-USA) scored in two of the seven innings.

Head coach Jeff Breeden wasn’t looking ahead at the schedule, but he understood the importance of each season’s matchup.

“We look at taking it one game at a time,” Breeden said. “Each one of these [games] are individual events, even though there are three on a weekend in a series. But if you want to get to championship Sunday, and you got a chance to win a series, then you [must] win either Friday or Saturday.

FAU took the opening lead in the second. The Owls led off the inning with a single. A Blue Raider error at first put two Owls on with no one out.

FAU then reached on a fielder’s choice, and a throwing error from Woods allowed the Owls to score on the first run, 1-0. FAU’s Maya Amm then connected on a deep sacrifice fly into left field to bring across one more and take a 2-0 lead after two.

The Lady Raiders got things going in the fourth. Sophomore Amaya Harris led off the inning, drawing a hit by pitch to put one on with no one out. After an FAU double play, the Blue Raiders battled back to try and get on the board.

Freshman Ava Tepe reached on the Blue Raider’s second HBP of the inning, before junior Kelci Hill drew a seven-pitch walk to put two on with two down. Freshman Claire Czajkowski followed Hill with a two-out gem, connecting on a single through the right side to bring Tepe home from second and bring the score back within one, 2-1.

FAU kicked their lead back out to two in the top of the sixth inning to take a 3-1 lead.

It all came down to the seventh inning for the Lady Raiders, as freshman pitcher Claire Woods connected on a single into right center to get the comeback going. After sophomore Jaya Herring came in to pinch run for Woods, sophomore Shelby Sargent knocked her fourth double of the season, to move Herring to third and put the Blue Raiders’ tying run in scoring position.

The first game changing play occurred when FAU pitcher Donnie Gobourne threw a wild pitch past the catcher that allowed Herring to score and bring the deficit down to one, 3-2. The game sealing play was next as Laura Mealer connected on a one-out two-RBI home run over the center-field wall to walk it off and give a 4-3 win over the Owls.

“We needed to win this game”, said Laura Mealer. “The opportunity to send us home and tie the series up was a moment I will never forget.”

The Lady Raiders will face the Owls on Sunday at 12 p.m.

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