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Memphis softball falls to Murray State 6-3

The University of Memphis softball team fell 6-3 to the Murray State Racers at the Tigers Softball Complex Tuesday.

The Tigers (18-18) were the first to get on the scoreboard with a two-run fourth inning, but the Racers (12-17) quickly responded. After a four-run fifth inning—which included a two-run homerun by junior catcher Jocelynn Rodgers—Murray State jumped out to a 4-2 lead.

Although Memphis gained some momentum with 1-run single from junior pitcher Cali Irvin in the bottom of the sixth, it wasn’t enough to slow the Racers. Murray State never trailed after the fifth inning, scoring two insurance runs in the top of the seventh to seal the victory. The Racers finished with seven hits on the day.

Tigers’ coach Natalie Poole explained that defense was the area that hurt the Tigers the most and said that area of play has to improve moving forward.

“Today, I felt like we definitely gave up too many extra base hits,” she said. “I think defensively we didn’t play the game we have been playing on the field, at least in the last 15 games or so and I think we could have had a better performance there.”

Rodgers led the way for the Racers, finishing with two hits, two runs and three RBIs on three at bats. Her two-run shot over the left-center wall was her second homer of the season.

Freshman infielder Brenna Finck and centerfielder Cayla Levins also stood out for the Racers. Finck went two for two on the day with a run, while Levins batted .500 (2-4), finishing with a run as well.

Memphis got some solid production at the plate, also finishing with seven hits. Freshman middle infielder Tyler Johnson went two for three on the day with two runs. Irvin also finished two of three at the plate, while adding three RBIs.

Racers’ pitcher Mason Robinson won her ninth contest of the season, as she pitched a complete game. Robinson finished with two strikeouts and three walks, while giving up only three runs on seven hits.

Poole said too many grounders hurt the Tigers when it came to their offense, benefiting Robinson.

“Offensively I think some of our bats were good, but I think we hit too many ground balls,” Poole said. “I think that’s what (Robinson) wanted to work us in to and so our goal was to try to avoid hitting the weak ground balls to the infield and I think sometimes we did okay and sometimes we could have done a better job with that.”

Memphis’ sophomore pitcher Molly Smith (6-7) was attributed the loss. Through 4.2 innings, Smith notched six strikeouts, but gave up four hits, four walks and four runs in the fifth inning, before being replaced by Irvin.

Tuesday’s contest marked the last of an eight-game homestand for the Tigers. Memphis finished 5-3 throughout that stretch.

Although the Tigers couldn’t come up with the win Tuesday, Poole was happy overall with the team’s performance over the home stretch.

“I was really pleased about that,” she said. “We definitely are always looking for opportunities to be at home and play good. To play in front of our crowd in a great way and be able to put on a good performance.”

The Tigers will return to action April 5, as they travel to Conway, Arkansas to take on the Central Arkansas Bears at 5 p.m. at Farris Field.

“Central Arkansas is a team that has a pretty good combination of power as well as speed,” Poole said. “You know they play on an artificial turf field. That to me is one of the challenges we face whenever we play them because they built their team around their surface. They have a really good combination of kids that can pound the ball in the air or on the ground and can get a lot of air and space, and also some kids that can swing it pretty good. I mean I’ve had balls bounce over our outfielders’ heads that had hit the ground, so for us the goal is to play better there, play good defense there.”

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