MT welcomes WKU to C-USA play –


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Middle Tennessee played its best softball of the season at the end of last week’s 3-1 series win over Marshall, and the Blue Raiders are looking to carry that momentum into this weekend’s home series against Conference USA rival Western Kentucky.
Games 36-39: Middle Tennessee (18-17, 4-4 C-USA) vs. Western Kentucky (15-6, 0-0 C-USA)
» Friday, April 16 | 6 p.m. CT
» Saturday, April 17 | 2 p.m. CT
» Saturday, April 17 | 4 p.m. CT
» Sunday, April 18 | 12 p.m. CT
» 10% maximum capacity; masks and social distancing required
About the Blue Raiders
» Kelci Hill was named C-USA Hitter of the Week following her dominant weekend at the dish against Marshall. Jocelynn De La Cruz and Claire Smith also hit .500 or better against the Thundering Herd, with Lani Rodriguez close behind at .462.
» The 1-2 punch of Summer Burgess (.340 avg, 10 doubles) and Kelci Hill (.387 avg, 43 hits) leads the Blue Raiders at the top of the order.
» MT leads C-USA as a team in hits (273), sacrifice bunts (30), stolen bases (56), and fielding percentage (.968).
» Hill, Roriguez and Nahri Tath-Slezak are tied for the league lead in sacrifice hits with six apiece.
» Early innings are crucial for the Blue Raiders, who are 12-3 when scoring first and 1-10 when the opponent scores in the first inning.
» In the circle, Kailey Ahlstrom’s great weekend against the Herd elevated her to first on the team in ERA with a mark of 2.71. Ahlstrom is 4-1 in 49.0 innings of work coming mostly out of the bullpen.
» Defensively, Burgess leads the league in assists (74), and Lexi Cushing leads C-USA in putouts with 247.
All-time vs. Western Kentucky
» WKU owns a 42-28 advantage in the all-time series over the Blue Raiders and have won 18 of the 28 games played in Murfreesboro.
» MT traveled to Bowling Green last year for the first and only C-USA series in 2020, and the Hilltoppers won all three games by a combined seven runs.
Scouting the Hilltoppers
» Western Kentucky missed its scheduled C-USA opening series against Marshall due to issues with COVID-19 within the program but has since lost to Eastern Kentucky, No. 5 Florida and Team Canada.
» The Hilltoppers enter this week receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll and were picked in the preseason to finish first in the C-USA east division.
» Pitchers Kelsey Aikey (2.95 ERA, 61.2 innings, 62 strikeouts) and Shelby Nunn (2.90 ERA, 31.1 innings) along with catcher Kendall Smith (.328 batting average, 6 extra base hits) were named to the preseason All-Conference Team.
» Outfielders Taylor Davis (.413 avg, 8-8 SB) and Paige Carter (.387 avg, 29 hits, 7 HRs) lead their team at the plate.
» Kennedy Sullivan has done it all for the Hilltoppers this year, leading her team in ERA (2.13) and opponent batting average (.157) in the circle while also hitting .371, slugging six homers and collecting 21 RBIs at the plate.
Next Time Out
» MT’s homestand will be complete on Sunday, and the Blue Raiders will travel to Florida Atlantic for a four-game set next weekend.
» 10% maximum capacity; masks and social distancing required
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter (@MT_Softball), Facebook (Blue Raider Softball) and Instagram (@mt_softball).

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