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Eagle Softball battles to the last out of Evansville tournament


On Sunday, the Eagle softball team concluded its two-day stay at the UE Invitational by falling to Green Bay 12-1 in five innings and then coming up short, despite a seventh-inning rally, in a 5-2 contest with Bowling Green.

Morehead State (0-13) collected nine hits on the day and got solid pitching from sophomore Lennon Spicer, freshman Bree Sexton and freshman Maya Morris, but it was not enough to get over the hump.

Again, coach Samantha Jones spotlighted the performance of the defense.

"Our highlights today included our outfield making some big plays and throwing some runners out. Basically, they did a great job on finishing plays. They took a hard tack to be able to get runners out at the plate," she said.

In the opening game, Green Bay (7-11) scored in the first four innings, including putting six on the board in the second, and took advantage of some Eagle miscues to generate runs and bring the game to an early conclusion.

After the Phoenix notched a run in the first and pushed the score to 7-0 after an inning and a half, Morehead State got its bats going.

The Eagles cranked out four hits in the bottom of the second, highlighted a leadoff homer over the left-field fence by senior catcher Peyton Slater. It was the club's first four-bagger of the season. Junior right fielder Maddi Gailor followed with a single down the left-field line and senior third baseman Peyton Rose added a single to left field. With one out, designated player Bree Sexton added a third single. However, each only moved the runners up a base and the next two batters got out on fly balls.

For a team who has had struggles with its offense, having all seven runners who stepped to the plate in the inning make contact was a huge positive for Jones. Of the team's 15 outs in the game, 11 required the opponents to make a play in the field.

"Overall, when the girls made contact with the ball, they made hard contact. Unfortunately, it just went right at people today," she said. "But that's the game of softball. Sometimes you are going to have hard contact but it can go right to somebody for an out."

The Phoenix added two more runs in the third, but the Eagles kept them from adding to that by stranding three runners when the inning ended.

Senior second baseman Alexis Strother was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the third, but it was MSU's last baserunner.

Green Bay tacked on three more runs in the fourth inning, but could only muster one hit in the fifth, with the stanza ending on a double play.

After a weather delay that started after the completion of the top of the fifth and lasted nearly an hour, MSU was unable to score in its half of the inning and the 11-run margin forced the end to the game.

Spicer and Sexton shared the pitching duties. Spicer started and threw three and one-third innings before yielding to the freshman right-hander. Spicer (0-7) got the loss, despite only allowing three earned runs and one walk. The Phoenix did get eight hits off her, but struck out four times. Sexton pitched for one and two-third innings. She surrendered five earned runs on six hits with three walks.

Brittany Baneck picked up the win to improve to 2-6. She struck out four and did not allow a walk.

Four Eagles batted .500 in the game, with Slater, Gailor, Rose and Sexton each collecting a hit.

Jadin Justman went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored to pace Green Bay. Tiffany Giese, Alicia Peters, Becca Edwards and Aubrey Drohner added two hits apiece.

The Eagles kept the bats going in the second game, which also saw Morris make her first career start. She went the distance and finished with two strikeouts, while allowing five earned runs on eight hits with three walks.

Her performance earned Jones' praise.

"Maya Morris did a great job in the second game of the day of keeping the score low and giving the offense an opportunity to produce some runs," said the MSU coach.

Like in the first game, the Eagles scattered their hits throughout the lineup.

The Blue and Gold began the outing by scoring the game's initial run in the top of the first inning. Left fielder Ieesha Christian led off with an infield single and then stole second. Slater pushed her home with an RBI double to left field, before advancing to third on an error.

Bowling Green (9-4) countered with a run in the bottom of the frame, benefitting from a Peyton Dolejs' triple.

Neither team scored again until the bottom of the fourth when the Falcons plated three runs off a Madison Hendrix homer.

Freshman designated player Madi Ogden led an MSU charge in the fifth after beating out an infield single. Sophomore center fielder Trinity Spear also picked up a hit with a shot to third base.

Bowling Green pushed its advantage to 5-1 after a pair of hits led to a run in the bottom of the sixth.

Morehead State nearly tied the game in the top of the seventh.

Pinch-hitting sophomore Mayumi Kinchen-Atkins was hit by a pitch and was replaced by Rose. She stayed on base until there were two outs and things got interesting. Spear and Christian drew back-to-back walks and freshman shortstop Ilencia Lightbody reached on an infield single that sent Rose home. However, with the bases loaded, the Falcons turned to Kiara Hurley in the circle and she ended the game by forcing Slater to ground out to third base.

Christian, Lightbody, Slater, Ogden and Spear all recorded a hit. The Eagles hurt themselves by leaving seven runners stranded.

Dolejs and Sophie Weber led the Falcons with two hits apiece. Hendrix finished with a game-best three RBI.

Hannah Davies (2-1) earned the win after pitching six and two-thirds innings. She gave up five hits and two earned runs, while also walking three and striking out nine. Hurley collected her first save of the season after facing just one batter.

Morris (0-1) recorded her first decision of the spring.

Despite the setbacks, Jones found lots of positives in her team's performance.

"Our quality at-bats were high. Our defense was more in unison and our pitching did a great job of keeping the opposing batters off balance," she said. "Now we just need to work on having more hard hits and more timely hits, and finding ways we can get on base being the scrappy team that we are."

Morehead State is scheduled to host a doubleheader on Tuesday for its home opener. Butler comes to town with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN+.

Next weekend, the Eagles head out for their final non-conference tournament of the year as they travel to Greenville, N.C., for the Purple-Gold Invitational. The Blue and Gold will face Bryant and Rider on Saturday and then Rider and host East Carolina on Sunday.

By Brad Laux, MSU Athletic Media Relations