By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
MURRAY, Ky. – Last Friday, Alyssa Arden threw a no-hitter over Eastern Illinois, her second no-no of the season. Before the weekend was out, Murray State's Hannah James went one step better, throwing a perfect game against Belmont.
The two hurlers could square off against each other on Saturday as the Golden Eagles head to Racer Field for a 1 p.m. start of this weekend's lone doubleheader.
The games will be broadcast live on ESPN+ (subscription required).
As Tech and Murray State enter the weekend, the Racers have a slight leg up in the standings with a 5-1 Ohio Valley Conference record by virtue of Murray's series at SIUE washed out a couple weeks ago. That series has since been rescheduled to Saturday, May 4, in the league's built-in make-up week before the OVC Tournament in Oxford, Ala.
The Golden Eagles (15-15) also have five wins in league play, but has three losses, having played all eight of their conference games scheduled thus far.
In the OVC standings, Murray State (15-18) is tied for second with Southeast Missouri and Austin Peay at 5-1 each, while Tech is tied for fifth with UT Martin and Eastern Kentucky. After that, some separation is forming as Belmont (2-6), SIUE (1-3), Tennessee State (1-7), Eastern Illinois (1-7) and Morehead State (0-6) follow behind. Jacksonville State leads the pack with a 7-1 mark in league play.
In her outing against the Bruins on Sunday, James saw 21 batters and retired them all as she struck out five, coaxed nine ground balls and saw seven fly out to the outfield as she threw 98 pitches. James is 8-8 on the season with two saves. She has nine complete games and three shutouts in 24 appearances and 105 1/3 innings pitched as she has allowed 22 walks and struck out 83 with batters hitting .263.
Arden retired 15 of the 16 batters she faced in her Friday contest against Eastern Illinois, as a hit batter was all the freshman pitcher allowed in the game. Arden struck out two, coaxed five grounders and forced eight fly balls in the run-ruled contest.
The freshman is 9-6 on the season with a 3.27 ERA. She has seven complete games and three shutouts in 17 appearances and 92 innings of work. She has walked 44 and struck out 71 with opponents hitting .232.
However, once the Golden Eagles entered Ohio Valley Conference play, the offensive numbers have started to climb. In league play only, Tech is batting .319 compared to .255 for its league sisters. In the last six OVC games alone (the Morehead, EIU and SIUE series), Tech is batting .323 to .184 against.
In league play, Tech has outscored its opponents 58-43, but the last six games Tech has outscored its league opponents by 30 – 51-21. The Golden Eagles have also hit 13 home runs in their last six OVC contests and picked up 46 RBI.
In the last six OVC contests, Raleigh Lewis has been on a tear, hitting .500 with three home runs, 11 RBI and six runs scored. Hallie Davis has also hit three home runs and driven in 11 in the last six league games with two grand slams.
Arden had a tough outing against EKU, which leads to her 3-1 record in league play with a 3.55 ERA. But in the last three series alone, she's got a 1.56 ERA in 18 innings of work, allowing four earned runs, five total, on nine hits as she has walked five and struck out 17. Opponents are hitting .145 against her in the last three OVC contests she's pitched.
For the season, Beth McCulley is the team's top hitter, collecting 39 hits in 100 at-bats. She has scored 17 times and driven in seven, while also stolen nine out of 10 stolen base attempts.
Tech also has five double-digit RBI producers on the year, three with over 20 with Lewis and Sydney Love-Baker leading the way with 23 each, while Gabby LaSala has 21. Davis (19) and Alexis Trimiar (18) also have double-digit RBI totals.
On the year, Tech has been outscored 155-146 and is hitting .270 as a team with 30 doubles, 30 home runs and 136 RBI. The pitching staff has a 4.48 ERA with 101 walks and 124 strikeouts and opponents are hitting .270.
At this date a year ago, Tech was 9-23, had been outscored 219 to 123, was hitting .255 and had 44 doubles, 22 home runs and 109 RBI. The pitching staff had a 6.15 ERA with 137 walks and 115 strikeouts and opponents hitting .328.
At first glance, it's a pretty solid improvement in a year's time.
Murray State, on the other hand, is hitting .269 as a team this season, has been outscored 166-141, has 44 doubles, two triples and 18 home runs with 131 RBI. The Racers are led at the plate by Lillie Goetz, who has a .344 batting average with three home runs and 27 RBI. Madison Culver (.245) has a team-high five home runs with 21 RBI.
In the circle, the Racers have a 3.80 ERA with teams hitting .288 against them. Outside of James' numbers, Taylor Makowsky (1.89) has a 4-2 record in 33 1/3 innings of work with 11 walks and 31 strikeouts. Grace Vaughn (0-4) has a 7.-07 ERA in five starts and 33 2/3 innings.
The all-time series between these two teams is knotted even at 12-12. Tech went 2-1 against the Racers last year, sweeping Murray in a doubleheader in Cookeville 5-1 and 5-4 after falling 21-0 in five innings to the Racers in tournament play nearly two months earlier.
Tech has won six of the last eight meetings against the Racers.