The Murray State softball team got its 2017 season off to a 2-0 start Friday by winning both of its games at the 2017 Mercer Invitational at Sikes Field in Macon, Georgia. The Racers took down the host Bears of Mercer in game one, 9-4, and beat Portland State in the nightcap, 5-1.

Game 1 – Murray St. 9, Mercer 4
In the opener, senior Jessica Twaddle gave the Racers a 1-0 lead in the first when she blasted the first pitch of 2017 that she saw for a home run. However, the Bears would answer in the bottom of the frame when Meghan Rud scored on an MSU error after stealing third base.

In the second, senior Jocelynn Rodgers notched a home run of her own to make it 2-1, Murray State. However, in the third the Bears would take the lead after a solo home run from Quirisa Mauga and an RBI single from Danielle Castleberry.

The lead did not last long, as Rodgers hit her second home run of the game in the fourth, this time a three-run shot, to put the Racers back on top. MSU would go on to add two more runs in the inning and take a commanding 7-3 lead.

The Racers added one run in both the fifth and sixth innings on another Twaddle home run and a RBI single from freshman Kaylee Ranburger, to push the lead out to 9-3. The Bears would score in the sixth, but only once, as MSU was able to close out the game for the 9-4 win.

Twaddle finished the game at 2-for-3 with three runs, two RBIs and a walk, while Rodgers was 2-for-4 with two runs and four RBIs. Senior Mason Robinson pitched a complete game for MSU to earn the win by allowing four runs, three of which were earned, on 12 hits with three strikeouts and a walk.

Game 2 – Murray St. 5, Portland St. 1
Portland State struck first in game two after a stolen base attempt by Alexis Ponce went wrong for Murray State. The Racers committed two separate errors on the play, allowing Ponce to score from first and give her team the early 1-0 advantage.

The lead would only be temporary as Murray State exploded for four runs in the bottom of the third to take back the lead for good. Ranburger and sophomore Madison Culver each had RBI singles in the stanza, while Rodgers drove in a run on a line out and Ranburger scored on a wild pitch.

Ranburger would score her second runner of the day in the fifth on a RBI fielder’s choice to cap the game’s scoring at 5-1, allowing the Racers to hold on for the win.

Sophomore Brenna Finck led MSU in the game by going 3-for-3 with a walk and a run, while Ranburger was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run. Erika Downey also had a nice game by going 1-for-2 with two runs and a walk. Junior Haven Campbell went the distance in the win for Murray State in the circle by allowing just one unearned run on three hits with five strikeouts and no walks.

Murray State returns to Sikes Field in Macon Saturday to take on Dayton at 9:30 a.m. ET, followed by Kent State at 6:30 p.m. ET.

by Parker Griffith

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