|CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A four-run inning for Charlotte and a five-run frame by Kansas doomed the Middle Tennessee softball team as the Blue Raiders fell to Charlotte 5-4 and Kansas 6-3 on Saturday at the Charlotte Classic.
Middle Tennessee began the day against tournament host Charlotte and took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Kayla Toney scored from second base on a misplayed ball by 49er left fielder Briana Gwaltney.
Both squads went down in order in their next at-bats before Charlotte put up a four-spot in the bottom of the second to take a 4-1 lead. After Chelsea Lisikatos struck out to begin the inning, the 49ers pieced together four-consecutive singles to take a 3-1 lead. An RBI groundout by Samantha Slade then put the home squad up 4-1.
The Blue Raiders responded the next inning with a pair of runs whenKayla Toney blasted a two-out, two-run home run, scoring Nina Davenport who had reached on a double. Middle Tennessee then tied the game at 4-4 on another home run, this one coming off the bat of Kelsey Woodruff to lead off the fourth.
Following a quiet fifth inning, Middle Tennessee put together a scoring opportunity in the sixth. Toney reached on a bunt single to lead off the inning and two batters later Woodruff singled, advancing Toney to third with just one out. Nina Dever struck out and Kaycee Popham fouled out, however, to end the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh with the game still tied 4-4, pinch runner Hayley Lewis stole second to put the potential winning run at second with two outs. Slade then singled through the left side, scoring Lewis from second and giving the 49ers a 5-4 victory.
Katie Watkins (2-2) went all seven innings for Charlotte, giving up three earned runs on five hits and allowing just one walk for the win. The defeat went to Jordyn Fisherback (0-1) who tossed all 6.2 innings while allowing four earned runs on six hits and striking out five.
Toney went 2-2 with two RBIs and a pair of runs scored to lead the way for Middle Tennessee. The 49ers were fueled at the plate by Slade and Lorena Vela who both picked up a hit and two runs batted in.
The Blue Raiders encountered a rematch with Kansas shortly after the conclusion of the Charlotte contest. Much like its game against Charlotte, Middle Tennessee jumped out to an early lead, this time with a three-run first inning.
Davenport singled to begin the game and Samantha Nieves brought her home on an RBI double. After a Toney single knocked Kansas starter Kristin Martinez out of the game, Ysais plated Nieves on a run-scoring single down the left field line. A wild pitch allowed Dever to score and put Middle Tennessee 3-0.
Kansas added a run of its own in the bottom of the first when Maggie Hull doubled to score Ashley Newman who led off the inning with a triple. Blue Raider starter Shelby Stinnett exited in favor of Caty Jutson who allowed no further damage.
The teams traded zeros the next couple of innings as Jutson and Jayhawk pitcher Morgan Druhan both found their rhythm.
The Jayhawks then took control of the game with a five-run outburst in the fourth. Kansas loaded the bases with one out before Chanin Naudin brought the Jayhawks to within 3-2 on an RBI groundout. Three singles, a walk and an error later, Kansas had a 6-3 lead.
Middle Tennessee was unable to respond as Druhan held the Blue Raiders without a hit in the fifth and sixth innings. Marquez led off the seventh by singling to left field but was thrown out at second trying to stretch the hit into a double. Davenport lined out to shortstop and Nieves popped up to second base to end the game.
Middle Tennessee fell to 0-4 on the season while Kansas bettered its record to 7-2.
Druhan got the win for Kansas as she went the distance after relieving Martinez in the first and allowed no earned runs on just four hits while striking out seven. Meanwhile the loss went to Jutson who gave up five runs (two earned) on seven hits in seven innings pitched.
Ysais was 2-3 with an RBI to pace the Blue Raiders offensively. The Jayhawks were led at the plate by Hull who went 2-4 with a couple of runs batted in.
“We once again had our chances today,” said Middle Tennessee head coach Sue Nevar. “We had early leads in both games but unfortunately allowed a couple of big innings which did us in.”
Middle Tennessee will attempt to enter the win column on Sunday when the Blue Raiders will play at either 10 a.m. or noon against an opponent still to be determined. Fans should note that possible inclement weather may force delays or a complete cancellation of Sunday's action. Check for updates via the team’s Twitter (@MT_Softball) and Facebook (MTSU Softball) pages.
Follow every pitch of the Charlotte Classic via live stats courtesy of Charlotte which can be accessed via Charlotte49ers.com.