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Bolstered by another strong performance at home, Eagle softball is ready to host Tennessee Tech for a midweek doubleheader


Morehead State continues its five-game home stand at the University Field when it entertains Ohio Valley Conference foe Tennessee Tech with a Wednesday doubleheader starting at 1 p.m.

Both contests will be broadcast on ESPN+ at the following links: Game 1: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/2c7e5845-313d-47ae-91d9-8219a71388c6?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults, Game 2: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/7f7f7174-78ce-422e-80be-52ea0e5d6333?om-navmethod=espn%3Aglobalsearch%3Aresults. Live stats will also be available for the games at: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/statmonitr/?id=383265.

Morehead State has just played four home contests this season, all since March 16, and owns a 2-2 record.

"The team is excited to play at home, not only in front of their crowd but in beautiful weather," Morehead State coach Samantha Jones said. "It'll be a great day to come out to University Field and see your Eagles compete against Tennessee Tech."

Since starting the year 0-15, the Blue and Gold has improved in every facet of the game. With the exception of the third contest of the Eastern Illinois series when the squad was short on pitching, the Eagles have posted averages of.248 batting and .938 fielding, and have a 4.43 ERA. In contrast over the first 15 games, MSU hit .215, committed 28 errors in 264 chances and posted a 7.08 ERA.

During that six-game stretch, junior right fielder Maddi Gailor is hitting .444, with eight RBI and three doubles, and owns a .611 slugging percentage and a .500 on-base percentage. This past weekend, she was 5-for-11 with five RBI and received votes for OVC Player of the Week honors. Junior infielder Kirya Kingery is not far behind, batting .375 with a .438 slugging percentage and a .412 on-base percentage; while freshman infielder/catcher Ilencia Lightbody has posted a .364 average at the plate and scored five times. In addition, the club has successfully swiped 10 of its 13 base-stealing attempts.

In the circle, sophomore Lennon Spicer sports a 2-1 record and a 2.21 ERA with 15 strikeouts to just seven walks in 19 innings. Freshman pitchers Bree Sexton and Madi Ogden have also played well during that stretch sharing time as the team's No. 2 hurler.

For the complete season, senior catcher/infielder Peyton Slater has the top batting average at .267, with freshman left fielder Ieesha Christian next at .262. Spicer posts a 2-9 record with a 4.93 ERA, 50 strikeouts and 30 walks in the circle.

One area in which Morehead State has excelled this spring is being hit by a pitch. Senior infielder Peyton Rose leads the nation at .523 times per game and is currently tied for seventh in school single-season history with 11. After being hit in Sunday's second game, Slater moved into third on the career list with 28. As a team, the Eagles have been plunked 23 times this season. MSU's all-time one-year high is 39.

Tennessee Tech (20-9/3-3) enters on a three-game win streak having swept a home series with Southeast Missouri this weekend, which included claiming 5-3 and 5-4 (in 10 innings) victories on Saturday and then 2-0 on Sunday. It was the club's first three-game sweep over the Redhawks since 2006 and pushed its overall record to 20 wins for the first time since 2016.

However, the Golden Eagles are just 5-5 on the road this season and 12-9 away from home in games that include those played at neutral sites. This month the team boasts an 11-4 mark. After starting with an 11-1 road loss at Tennessee, which this week is ranked between 11th and 13th in each of the four major polls, the Golden Eagles bounced back to win eight straight, before dropping a three-game set at Tennessee-Martin. A mid-week doubleheader at Evansville was canceled, before the club faced SEMO to round out its action in March.

Offensively, TTU is batting .284, while allowing its opponents to hit .253. Individually, three players are hitting above .300, including sophomore pitcher/infielder Mackenzie Fitzgerald (.392, nine extra-base hits, 33 runs scored, 13 RBI and 17-of-18 in stolen bases), junior pitcher/infielder Haeli Bryson (.378, seven home runs, 31 RBI and 27 runs scored) and freshman infielder Carmen Betts (.373, 21 RBI with 20 runs scored). Opposing pitchers own a 5.17 ERA against Golden Eagle bats.

Defensively, the club sports a .969 fielding percentage and a 3.11 ERA, with opponents batting .253 against it. Three pitchers are sharing time in the circle. Senior Alyssa Arden (10-6, 3.38 ERA, 61 strikeouts and 25 walks in 93.1 innings) is getting the most work. Freshman Tyler Erwin follows with a 7-1 record, a 2.31 ERA, 28 strikeouts and 11 walks in 42.1 innings. Bryson has also seen some action as a pitcher with a 3-2 record, 3.09 ERA, 30 strikeouts and 16 walks in 45.1 innings.

After Sunday's win, Morehead State took Monday off and returned with a Tuesday workout.

"Practice was great today as we continued to get a lot of reps when it comes to hitting, and in the field when it comes to defense. We are working on little things here and there that we took away from this past weekend," Jones said. "But our girls feel prepared and are ready to go to take on Tennessee Tech, who will bring strong bats as well as versatile pitching, but nothing that we haven't seen already in conference play and in preseason."

The fastpitch history between the two dates back to 1989 with the clubs meeting every year since except the 2020 Covid-canceled campaign. TTU is 73-28 all-time against the Eagles and enter Wednesday having won five straight both overall and in Morehead. MSU's last win came in 2018 when the Blue and Gold swept an April 29 doubleheader in Cookeville, Tenn., 2-1 and 7-3. The Eagles last victory at University Field came on April 30, 2017, in a 5-3 decision.

Coach Jones is 0-5 all-time against the Golden Eagles, which won all three meetings in 2021 – 3-1 and 7-5 on March 21, and 7-3 on March 22. Those games were played at MSU. TTU leads the series of contests taken place in Morehead at 32-12.

Although Tennessee Tech has dominated the series, the statistics are somewhat misleading. Of the 101 total contests, 55 were decided by one or two runs, with the Golden Eagles holding advantages of 18-12 in one-run games, and 15-10 in two-run games. Against Morehead State, TTU also is 14-0 in run-rule contests, 4-0 in outings that went to extra innings and 7-0 in games stopped before seven frames.

This weekend, the Eagles travel to pre-season OVC favorite Southeast Missouri State for a three-game series. The two teams will tangle in a single contest on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET, and then play a doubleheader on Sunday with the first game starting at noon ET. MSU will be back home on Wednesday, Apr. 6, when it hosts Kentucky State in a doubleheader.

By Brad Laux, MSU Athletic Media Relations