COMEBACKS KEEP LADY SOFTBALL TIGERS PERFECT ON THE SEASON
MURFREESBORO, Tennessee-Two late inning comebacks highlighted the first day of the MT Strike Out Breast Cancer for the Tennessee State softball team. The Tigers defeated Ball State 11-5 and host Middle Tennessee State 2-1 to remain perfect at 9-0 on the season. The two wins also extended the TSU win streak to ten games dating back to last season. Trailing 4-2 in the sixth inning of game one, the Tigers exploded for six hits, including four doubles, a walk and the use of two Ball State errors to score seven runs and take a 9-4 lead into the final inning. Junior Katie Anderson would start the rally by doubling to left center and was followed by an error on Cardinals pitcher Laura Masch to allow Diana Clifford to reach base. Jennifer Gregory would walk to load the bases for freshman Tamara Perkins who promptly cleared the bases with a double into left field to give TSU a 5-4 lead. The Tigers added three consecutive hits by Candace Hildebrand, who doubled to left, Erin Finneran and Bridget Metzger to push the lead to 7-4 all before recording their first out of the inning. Lauren Weber closed out the scoring with a two-run double to centerfield. Junior Amanda Vaught (4-0) pitched five innings in relief of Hildebrand. The Murfreesboro native struck out 10 and did not surrender a hit until the seventh inning. Hildebrand finished the game with a career high four hits (4-for-5) driving in one run. Gregory was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI, while Perkins had a game high four RBI going 2-for-3 with a run. Game two was a pitchers duel between Vaught and Blue Raiders pitcher Lindsey Vander Lugt. MTSU would strike first in the fifth inning when Shelby Stiner stole home after a wild pitch allowed her to reach third. TSU entered the bottom of the seventh inning trailing 1-0 and set for their second comeback of the day. Perkins delivered the first pitch of the inning over the centerfield fence to tie the game at one. Hildebrand followed with a single up the middle and was lifted in favor of pinch runner Ebon Jones who then stole second base. Metzger delivered the knockout blow with a single into right field that plated Jones for the win. Vaught pitched six innings and scattered five hits and struck out six. Hildebrand pitched the final inning and recorded the win improving to 4-0. The Tigers return to pool play action on Saturday, February 24, with a 10 a.m. game versus cross-town rival Belmont University followed by a 12:30 p.m. contest against OVC opponent Morehead State.