The Middle Tennessee softball team (10-8) scored five runs in the seventh inning to rally for a thrilling 6-5 victory over New Mexico State Tuesday afternoon, snapping NM State’s 10-game win streak.
With the win, the Blue Raiders have matched last season’s win total, and also ended a four-game slide against NM State (18-8).
It was the fourth time this season MT has come back from being down by three runs or more.
Junior Kiarra Freeman and freshman Morgan Harris combined for a 5-for-7 showing and four RBIs, including two clutch hits in the final inning. Freeman paced the offense as she tied her career-high with three hits and a career-best two RBIs.
Sophomores Austyn Whaley and Lauren Riddell also came through as each posted an RBI in the seventh frame. Riddell finished with a hit and Whaley was 2-for-4 from the dish and has tallied a hit in the past four games.
Freshman Cor’Nisha Birdsong tallied two hits while juniors Megan Griffith and Carlie Jenkins recorded a hit as well.
Down 5-3 after Riddell and Whaley both hit RBI singles to cut the deficit to two, Harris stepped up with the bases loaded and one out as she plated two runners with a single to center field to tie the game at 5-apiece.
In the ensuing at-bat, Freeman’s two-out RBI single to second base drove in sophomore pinch runner Marinna Shadley for the winning run.
“Our kids kept the faith and stayed the course through the entire game”, said head coach Jeff Breeden. “This was an awesome win for our players and softball families.”
NM State struck first in the bottom of the first frame with a two-run homer that gave the Aggies a 2-0 advantage before the Blue Raiders cut the deficit to one, 2-1, in the top of the second frame. NMSU added two more runs in the second and one more in the third for its final score to take a 5-1 lead.
MT had several opportunities early in the contest while loading the bases on multiple occasions, but it wasn’t until the final inning that the Blue Raider took advantage when threatening to score.
Junior right-hander Kelci Cheney improved to 6-5 on the year as she pitched the final two innings to allow just one hit. Sophomore Megan Chocallo came in for 3.1 innings of solid work as the right-hander allowed one run and scattered four hits.
Cheney and Chocallo slowed down the Aggie lineup allowing just five hits and a run over the last 5.1 innings of the game after NM State scored its first four runs in the opening 1.2 innings. Senior Caitlin McClure started but didn’t factor into the decision while allowing four runs on four hits. NM State came into the game averaging over nine runs over the winning streak.
“The fact that we have beaten an ACC and a WAC school tells me our kids are moving in the right direction,” said Breeden. ” We just have to keep getting better every day and stay the course.”
The Blue Raiders will look to build off the big win this weekend in their conference home opener against FIU on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m., at Blue Raider Softball Field.