MURRAY – Murray hosted Orient-Macksburg Thursday night in a baseball and softball showing, with the Mustangs going home victorious in both games 13-12 (softball) and 14-4 (baseball).
In the softball game, the Bulldogs put pressure on right away with a lead off triple from senior Kaela Eslinger.
Eslinger eventually scored on an RBI single from Cortney Gross, and Gross came in off a Caitlin Gist sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 after the fist half inning.
Murray answered back with a lead off double from Chloe Church, who came around to score on a Bailey Frederick single up the left field line.
Then, with two on, Zoey Black flipped the game with a two RBI double to make it 3-2. The lead for Murray was short lived, however.
A Kinsey Eslinger hit tied up the game and a Christa Cass triple cleared the bases to make it 5-3. Gist got on by way of an error to score Cass, and then another run-producing triple from Hailey Johnson put O-M in a commanding position with an 8-3 lead.
The lead eventually extended 10-3 in favor of O-M. Bulldogs head coach Mike Cooley said he expected the offense to produce Thursday night after putting up 17 and 11 runs in the last two games.
After scoring 10, the offense slowed as Murray worked their way back into it. Two runs in the third, a run in the fourth inning and two in the fifth put Murray back five at 12-7, trailing entering the final frame.
Due to an injury to Kaela Eslinger’s throwing hand, she was removed and replaced by Kinsey Eslinger and Johnson in the circle to try and get O-M out of town with a victory.
Murray clawed its way back into the game after recording the first out of the inning, getting on by way of an error and three walks – all of which scored to put Murray over the top in a walk-off win.
Black delivered the final blow with the run-scoring single to bring in Frederick.
O-M head coach Mike Cooley felt it was O-M’s game to lose, despite battling a program with a rich history and immense recent success.
“Murray’s got a lot of tradition and we’re battling that,” said Cooley. “... I always know that the Murray girls understand softball and they’re going to come with a game. I’m sure they thought it was a winnable game, and I though it was ours.”
Murray’s first-year head coach Tessa Otto said she knew O-M was going to be a tough opponent.
“I knew that they were going to be tough,” said Otto. “They’ve all been playing together for a while, started playing together young, .. they came out swinging hard and scored 12 runs against us. ... I knew they’d come out and hit hard.”
Murray’s run production was limited entering Thursday (outscored 0-24 in two games), but 13 runs scored in a win is a good sign and a confidence booster for the girls, said Otto.
“It was great for the girls to get confidence,” said Otto. “That’s where we were lacking the last two nights, ... it was great (Thursday) to get some confidence and get the bats going. That was good for the girls.”
For Murray, Otto said fielding will be a focus in practice to keep the run totals down going forward.
Mustang boys push past O-M
In baseball, it was a slug fest for Murray as the Mustangs beat Orient-Macksburg 14-4 in a run-ruled five inning contest.
It was a scoreless first inning, but O-M drew first blood as Wiley Ray worked his way around the bases and scored on a wild throw.
Down one, Aden Cosner put the Mustangs in control with a two-run double to right field. Following Cosner later in the inning was Brycen Wookey, who deposited a 3-run homer past the right field fence.
Orient-Macksburg showed some life in the fourth inning with a run scoring on a walk and two coming in on a double from Tyson Ross to make it 5-4, but the Bulldogs were unable to gain the lead back as Murray poured it on with four runs in the fourth and five in the fifth to gain the run-rule.
O-M’s Wiley Ray scored twice and singled in the loss. He also drew two walks. Jace Davidson and Zayden Rawlings also had singles.
For Murray, Wookey went 2-for-3 with the homer and three runs scored. Gauge Mongar had a double and a run scored, finishing 2-for-3. In total, five Murray batters scored at least twice with Wookey being the only to score three times.
The shortened win for Murray saved them from going to the bullpen as Wookey worked on the mound. Wookey pitched all five innings, striking out 10.
“We wanted to throw the ball hard over the plate, and I told (Wookey) I wanted to see a Greg Maddux out of him. I wanted a 93-pitch complete game,” said Murray baseball coach Clint Foster. “We got close, got five innings out of him and got a few runs at the end to get us out of having to pitch two more. He did his job. ... If we can get five innings out of what he threw, I’ll take that every night.”
After jumping on O-M and taking a 5-1 lead, Foster told his team that good things will happen when putting bat to ball.
“I always tell them, when you put the ball in play good things happen. They have to get you out, so it’s always good to put the ball in play over striking out,” said Foster. “We’re a very young team, no seniors, ... it’s good experience for us to put the ball in play, and we just so happened to get a lot of guys on base, so we’ll take it.”
Foster said the team is going to work on perfecting their throws in the field to tighten up errors that put runners on Thursday night.