Troy, AL – After having to wait 345 days since their last game due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, Austin Peay State University made the most of its return to the softball field, Saturday at the Troy Invitational, picking up a pair of wins, coming away with a 6-2 victory versus Western Carolina and a 9-1 — run-rule — victory over Mercer in the nightcap.
The Govs will conclude play at the invitational tomorrow, squaring off against the same to teams, facing Western Carolina at 9:00am, followed by a 12:30pm contest versus Mercer.
Austin Peay 6, Western Carolina 2
W: GROSS, Kelsey (1-0) L: Savannah Rice (1-2)
Austin Peay State university fell behind 1-0 to the Catamounts (2-3) in the bottom of the second inning but responded with a tying run in the top of the third.
Mallori Nesbit opening the inning with a single, just out of the reach of the Western Carolina third baseman, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kelsey Gray, then score two batters latter on a single to right by Brooke Pfefferle, to make it 1-1.
Austin Peay State University would take the score for good in the top of the fourth, scoring two runs, with Morgan McMahon driving in pinch runner Katie Keen with the tying run, while Brett Jackson also scored as the Catamounts left fielder mishandled the ball, making it 3-1.
Western Carolina would score its final run in the bottom of the inning to get within two, 4-2, but that would be as close as they would get, with Austin Peay State University adding two final runs in the sixth, with Kaitlyn Smith coming it on a wild pitch and Gray scoring on a single by Pfefferle.
Gross (1-0) picked up the win, going the first five innings, giving up six hits and two earned runs, while walking one and striking out one.
Harley Mullins came in in the bottom of the sixth and threw two innings of shutout ball to close out the game for the Govs.
Austin Peay 9, Mercer 1
W: BENEFIEL, Jordan (1-0) L: Ashlyn Donner (1-1)
Austin Peay State University broke open a 2-1 game with a seven-run fifth inning, collecting seven hits out of the 10 batters that went to the plate in the inning.
Osowski and Gross opened the inning with back-to-back singles followed by Jackson hitting a three-run homer over the left fielder fence to make it 5-1.
Osowski would end the game with an RBI single, as the APSU Govs came away with a 9-1 eight-run rule victory.
Jordan Benefiel (1-0), making her first collegiate start in the circle, went the distance, giving up just four hits and one run, while striking out eight.
The two teams opened the game trading scoreless innings through three-and-a-half, before the Govs broke on top, 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth on an infield single by Shorter than scored Dudley and Emily Moore.
Mercer scored its lone run in the top of the fifth inning.
Inside the Boxscore
Austin Peay State University is now 18-18 all-time in season-opening games.
The eight strikeouts recorded by Jordan Benefiel versus Mercer is the most by a APSU Govs freshman in their first career start since Natasha Anderson fans 10 Furman batters back on Feb. 12, 2004.
The win versus Western Carolina is the first by the Govs in three meetings.
Emily Moore moved into a tie for fifth place all-time in hit by pitches, when she was hit for the 15th time in her career in the Mercer game.
The seven-run fifth inning versus Mercer is the first seven-run inning by the Govs since April 26, 2019, when they turned the trick versus Morehead State.
Drew Dudley tied her career single-game high with three hits versus Mercer.
APSU coach Kassie Stanfill statements
On getting back to playing
“Our energy was there from the opening pitch to the end of the second game today. That is what we’ve been asking for and the girls showed up and were very eager to be out on the dirt against an opponent.”
“She knew she was going to get the ball in Game 1 and she told me she was going to leave it all out on the field. She did just that and I wouldn’t expect anything less from her. Her effort today, both at the plate and in the circle was impressive.”
On freshman Jordan Benefiel’s first career pitching start
“I told her after the game that’s why you’re here. The spins the ball well and her composure out there is like someone who has been out there 50 times and that’s all we can ask from her.”
On the offensive attach
“All off season we’ve been focusing on our hitting and buying into the hitter mentality. Today is showed that all that work was worth it. Everybody contributed and it was fully a team win. Everyone had a role and they stepped up with it.”
On all the new faces that stepped up on open day
“That is our job to bring in freshmen that can come in and find away to contribute right away. We were excited with what we saw from all of them today and with more game under their belt the nerves will fade, the confidence will grow and their performances will continue to get even better.”