MURFREESBORO, Tenn- A mid-week matchup is set between two middle Tennessee teams that have been successful on the diamond this season. The Belmont Bruins (22-14, 3-8 OVC) will travel to Murfreesboro this Wednesday to take on the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (28-17, 7-8 C-USA).
This is the second time these two non-conference area rivals have met this season. In their April 10th meeting, MTSU outlasted a late Belmont rally to earn a 7-2 victory. On that windy Tuesday evening, Belmont was plagued by errors and MTSU was able to capitalize and turn those mistakes into runs. With less than a month left of the season, both of these teams will be looking to earn a tough non-conference win.
Belmont was last in action on Friday as they split their conference doubleheader with Morehead State. Due to weather, their doubleheader against Eastern Kentucky that was set for Sunday afternoon was canceled, so the Bruins are coming off a few extra days of rest before taking on the Raiders this Wednesday afternoon.
The first game of the Morehead State series ended in exciting walk-off fashion. Tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, junior Baylee Cook led off the inning with a walk and freshmen Georgia McKee was hit by a pitch. With runners on first and second, junior Taylor Hargrove laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners into scoring position. Sophomore Bailey Sims hit the walk-off, RBI single to power Belmont over Morehead State in game one. The Bruins also had a strong performance in the circle from sophomore pitcher Brooklin Lee who pitched a complete game and earned her 12th win of the season. The second game didn’t go as well as the first for the Bruins, as they fell victim to a no-hitter tossed by Morehead State pitcher, Allison Rager.
On the season, Belmont is led offensively by a pair of seniors; designated player, Lexi Rouse, is hitting .376 with 8 homers and 24 RBI and third basemen Jess Andree follows closely behind with a .333 average, 6 home runs, and 20 RBI.
MTSU traveled to Miami this past weekend and played a three-game set with conference foe, FIU. The Raiders dropped both of their doubleheader games on Saturday but came back strong to earn a Sunday victory. A big sixth inning made all the difference for MTSU on Sunday; they scored all 5 runs of their 5-3 victory in one inning thanks to a couple of home runs from the corner infielders. Senior third basemen Kristin Uselton knocked out a two-run homer to start the Raider’s rally. A batter later, junior first basemen Danielle Munoz sent the ball over the left-center field fence to even the game at 3 runs apiece. MTSU kept chipping away as freshmen Brooke McClure hit a single up the middle, followed by a walk from junior Kirstyn Cuccia. The pair went for a double steal and an error on the FIU catcher allowed McClure to score. A pinch-hit RBI single from sophomore Lexi Cushing capped off the MTSU scoring as she drove in Cuccia for the 5th and final run of the afternoon. Senior pitcher Cori Jennings pitched a complete game and earned her 14th win of the season.
With their latest win, MTSU has their most conference wins since the 2013 season and are also guaranteed to finish at least .500 on the season with only 11 games remaining on their schedule. The Raiders have an impressive five players hitting over the .300 mark. Statistically, MTSU is led by consistent lead-off hitter, Summer Burgess, who is hitting .373 with 56 hits and sophomore Lexi Cushing provides some power as she is hitting .336 with 10 homers and 35 RBI on the season.
MTSU hosts Belmont on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 in Murfreesboro at Blue Raider Softball Field. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.