The MTSU softball team opened up Conference USA play this weekend against long time league rival, North Texas, but it was swept during all three games. It was the first ever C-USA games in program history after moving from the Sun Belt. However, the Lady Raiders have now lost eight games in a row this season after dropping Sunday’s game 11-5 to the Mean Green.
“I think we got to be more fundamentally sound,” MTSU head coach Jeff Breeden said after the loss on Sunday. “I do not think we can make ground ball errors, and I think we got to have a little better approach at the plate. Our pitching has got to become consistent. I am disappointed in the way we played this weekend. I do not think we ought to get swept in a conference series to be honest with you.”
North Texas got on the board in the top of the second when designated player Taylor Schoblocher crushed a MTSU pitch over the left field wall to take a 1-0 lead. The Mean Green added a second run in the inning, when left fielder Jackie Miller tripled to the right field wall scoring centerfielder Kat Strunk.
However, the Mean Green added five more runs during the next at-bat, which included two runs being scored when MTSU junior catcher Laura Dukes dropped the ball trying to cause the force play at home with the bases loaded. UNT right fielder Spencer Ferrell singled home two more runs to increase the lead to 7-0.
The Lady Raiders finally got on the board in the bottom half of the third when senior third baseman Kayla Toney nailed the Mean Green pitch just over the wall and down the right field line for the two-run homer to make the score 7-2. Junior Shortstop Samantha Nieves walked to start the inning for MTSU. UNT extended the advantage to 9-2 after bringing home two more runs in the top of the sixth.
The Lady Raiders tried to make a comeback in the bottom half of the inning as it added three runs to cut the lead down to 9-5. The rally was started when Nieves walked, and freshman shortstop Marinna Shadley came in to pitch run for the Lady Raiders. Freshman first baseman Lauren Riddell reached on error, and sophomore outfielder Cheyenne Willis pitch ran for her. Former Riverdale star and sophomore designed player Taylor Lee hit an infield single to load the bases.
MTSU got on the board when freshman second baseman Austyn Whaley walked to score Shadley. Then, senior Nina Dever singled up the middle to bring home Willis, and the final run of the inning came when freshman right fielder McKena Miller brought home Lee on a fielder’s choice.
In the top of the seventh, the Mean Green added two more runs to make it, 11-5 to close the scoring.
Senior pitcher Shelby Stinnett gets the loss for the Lady Raiders, while Ashley Kirk picked up the win for the Mean Green. MTSU was led at the plate by Toney, who went 1-for-3 with a home run and an RBI. Dever went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Earlier this weekend, MTSU dropped both games to UNT on Saturday, 5-1 and 8-1. The Lady Raiders were led at the plate by Nieves in Game 1, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI, and senior pitcher Jordyn Fisherback picked up the loss in the opening game. In Game 2, Toney and Dukes each went 2-for-3 in the loss, and senior pitcher Caitlin McClure got the loss.
With the loss, the Lady Raiders have now dropped eight games in a row with its last win coming on Feb. 25 against Samford. Its record is now 5-20 on the season, but the team is only three wins away from passing last season’s total win count of seven.
Next week, the Lady Raiders head to Southern Miss for a three game series against the Golden Eagles beginning with a doubleheader on March 15 at 1 p.m. The series concludes the following day also at 1 p.m.