Sexton, Lightbody homer, Eagles power past Govs
Through the first two outings of Morehead State softball's three-game home stand with Ohio Valley Conference rival Austin Peay, the Eagles crept closer and closer to toppling the Govs, proving they could play with the league's big dogs.
In Sunday's second game, they broke through and did so in grand fashion by posting their first run-rule victory over a league foe in just over four years.
Final score: Morehead State 9, Austin Peay 1. And the Eagles needed just five innings to pick up the win.
The last OVC squad MSU beat by at least eight runs?
That game took place on March 24, 2017, in Clarksville, Tenn., and featured an 11-0 five-inning Eagle win.
Austin Peay (15-15/2-4) pulled out the victory in the first game 7-4, but were out-hit by the Eagles. In the second game, however, it all fell into place for the hosts.
"We finally got our hits together. We strung them together back to back and then our defense was just stellar. I don't think we had any errors that game, but we just stacked on outs and outs, and it was awesome," said senior third baseman Peyton Rose.
The Eagles scored four runs in the second inning and from there they just rode the "Big Mo" the rest of the way.
"One person started and we just built off of that. We didn't stop at all," she said. "I just kept on hitting like everyone else and kept on building off of that."
In the second, junior first baseman Taylor Rhea got things started for Morehead State (2-20/1-5) with a two-out single. Then Rose was hit by a pitch, sophomore center fielder Trinity Spear doubled to left-center field to score Rhea, freshman left fielder Ieesha Christian singled up the middle to drive in Rose and Spear, and junior right fielder Madeline Gailor reached on a fielding error that allowed Christian to come home.
From that point, it was all downhill for the Eagles. The Govs went down in order in the third and then changed pitchers. Senior shortstop Peyton Slater was hit by a pitch to lead off the third frame and then freshman catcher Ilencia Lightbody laid down a bunt that the defense was unable to field in time. However, the visitors were able to get out of the inning unscathed.
Austin Peay looked to be hitting stride after back-to-back hits in the fourth, with senior third baseman Lexi Osowski's double plating the team's first run. But after a wild pitch, a pair of infield outs curtailed any additional damage.
MSU responded in the fourth. Rose led off with a single, Christian walked and Gailor drove in both runners with a double to left-center field. Junior second baseman Kirya Kingery reached on a well-placed bunt and then stole second. A fielder's choice and an infield pop-up ended the stanza with the Eagles holding a 6-1 advantage.
As she had done all game, sophomore pitcher Lennon Spicer kept the Gov bats at bay in the top of the fifth.
Things really unraveled for the visitors in the bottom of that inning, two consecutive errors by infielders and then an unsuccessful attempt to get a runner out at third on a fielder's choice loaded the bases. A wild pitch followed that allowed sophomore pinch runner Erin Boyle to score, and two batters later, Gailor's two-out infield single to shortstop and some aggressive base running led to two runs scoring and ending the game.
For the second straight contest, MSU out-hit the Govs. Seven different Eagles collected at least one hit, with Gailor leading the way at 2-for-3. She also drove in four runs. Gailor, Kingery, Lightbody, Rhea, Rose and Spear rounded out the team's eight hits. Rose crossed the plate a team-high three times. Christian finished with two RBI and two runs scored. Spear also had an RBI and scored twice. Boyle and Rhea scored the other two runs.
Spicer picked up her second win of the season to improve to 2-9. She went the distance and allowed one run on three hits. She did not have a strikeout or surrender a walk.
Three different Govs had a hit. Osowski picked up the lone RBI. Freshman Samantha Meiner started and took the loss. She pitched two innings and gave up three earned runs on three hits with one walk and one strikeout. Senior Harley Mullins threw the final two and two-third innings in relief and surrendered five runs (although only two earned) on five hits. She struck out two and walked one.
The Eagle victory snapped the 11-game winning streak owned by the Govs in the series. It also marked the final time in the regular season the two would meet as OVC members.
In the opener, a pair of homers along with a trio of MSU errors propelled Austin Peay to a 7-4 victory. The hosts got another solid pitching performance from freshman Bree Sexton
Graduate student center fielder Bailey Shorter drew a walk to lead off the game. Three batters later graduate student shortstop Brooke Pfefferle hit a shot over the fence in left field and the Govs grabbed a 2-0 lead.
MSU put a pair of runners on in the bottom of the inning, but was unable to get any around the bases.
The visitors extended their lead to 5-0 in the third after a hit, two errors and three walks resulted in three unearned runs.
The Eagles battled back in the bottom of the frame. Courtesy of a Christian walk and singles by Gailor and Kingery, the hosts got on the board.
Austin Peay loaded the bases in the fourth, but was unable to add to its total. Then in the bottom of the inning, Lightbody singled and Sexton hit a towering shot to center field to bring the Eagles to within two. It was just the Blue and Gold's second four-bagger of the year and the first in Sexton's collegiate career.
APSU again had chances to score in the fifth, but could not get anyone home. It was able to break through in the sixth as Shorter singled and Osowski homered to center field. That hit brought about a change in the circle for the Eagles as coach Samantha Jones turned to Madi Ogden. The freshman had some control issues at the start, but settled in and got the final two outs.
Lightbody cleared the left-field fence to begin the Eagles' sixth, but it was the team's last run.
Lightbody and Kingery paced the MSU offense with two hits apiece. Gailor, Slater and Sexton each added one. Sexton finished with two RBI, with Gailor and Lightbody adding the others. Lightbody also scored twice. Christian and Sexton each scored once.
Sophomore second baseman Morgan Zuege topped the Govs with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate. Pfferele added three RBI, while Osowski had two RBI and scored twice, and Shorter walked three times and scored three runs.
Sexton fell to 0-2 with the loss. She allowed four hits, four earned runs and eight walks, while striking out two in five and a third innings of work. Ogden pitched a scoreless final inning and two-thirds. She yielded one hit with one walk and no strikeouts.
Sophomore Jordan Benefiel improved to 7-5 with the complete-game win. She surrendered four earned runs on seven this with two walks, while striking out 10.
Austin Peay left 11 runners on base.
Morehead State concludes its home stand on Wednesday when Tennessee Tech comes to town for an OVC doubleheader. The first pitch will take place at 1 p.m.
By Brad Laux, MSU Athletic Media Relations