Dates: March 13-15
Site (Venue): Murray, Ky. (Racer Field)
Live Video: ESPN+
Live Stats: Links on goracers.com
MSU Record (Streak): 12-10 (Lost 2)
Racers All-Time vs. The Field: 1-0 (0-0 vs. Youngstown St., 1-0 vs. Oakland)
Youngstown State Record (Streak): 8-7 (Lost 3)
Oakland Record (Streak): 7-11 (Lost 6)
MSU Next Game: March 21 vs. Jacksonville State
MSU Next Home Game: Same
After 22 games away from home to begin the season, the Racers will make their 2020 Racer Field debut with five games on the schedule as they host the fourth-annual Racer Classic in Murray, Kentucky. Three contests against Youngstown State and two meetings with Oakland will be the weekend opponents, with Murray State’s first game of the weekend slated for 2:30 p.m. on Friday against Youngstown State. All games at the Racer Classic will be streamed live and archived on ESPN+. A complete weekend schedule can be found on our Tournament Central page at goracers.com.
Last Time Out:
The Racers went 1-4 during their last weekend of competition when they competed in the Mizuno Classic in Stillwater and Norman, Oklahoma. Despite the weekend record, the Racers continued to play at a high level with two of the losses coming against ranked opponents in #6 Oklahoma and #14 Oklahoma State respectively. The Racers did notch a win on Saturday, when they blanked Missouri State on their way to an 8-0 victory. Sierra Gilmore went deep twice on the weekend while driving in a team-high four runs, while Lexi Jones also launched a home run in Saturday’s victory against Missouri State.
In the circle, Jenna Veber earned the lone win as the freshman made four appearances on the weekend, tossing a team-high 14.2 innings while striking out six and not walking a single batter.
Entering the Weekend:
Murray State (12-10) enters the Racer Classic batting .255 while reaching base at a .356 clip on the year. They have outscored opponents 106 to 79 in 2020, and rank in the top third of NCAA Division I programs across the nation with 1.36 stolen bases per game. Individually, the Racers are fueled by junior shortstop Sierra Gilmore, who leads the way with a .369 average, 26 RBI, 16 runs scored, and seven home runs. The Racers have also seen a solid start from Logan Braundmeier, who is batting .343 with nine RBI and 15 runs scored while reaching base at a team-best .450 mark in the season.
In the circle, the Racers have posted an impressive 2.87 team ERA on the year, and rank 30th in the country with a 3.37 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Hannah James (5-4) has tossed a team-high 57 innings, recorded 50 strikeouts, and has held opposing hitters to a .235 average thus far. Jenna Veber (4-6) has also worked 53.1 innings for the Racers, striking out 30 and walking just two batters while holding hitters to a .236 average at the dish. The freshman from Oswego, Illinois ranks third in the nation with a 15.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
While the Racers are set to face Youngstown State three times over the three-day tournament, the two sides have never met prior to the weekend event. As for Oakland, the series between the Racers and Golden Grizzlies features just one prior encounter – a 7-6 nine-inning Racer victory on opening day of the 2018 Racer Classic on March 9th, 2018.
Scouting Youngstown State:
The Penguins bring an 8-7 record to the tournament, but enter the weekend as losers of three-straight contests after falling to Butler before dropping a doubleheader to Memphis earlier in the week. YSU is batting .258 with an on-base percentage of .375, and have scored their fair share of runs as they average 5.07 per contest. Individually, the Penguins have seen great production from junior Nikki Saibene, who is batting .459 with 11 RBI and eight runs scored through 15 games on the season. The power in the YSU lineup has come primarily from senior Maddi Lusk (.354, 14 RBI, 11 R) who has launched a team-high five home runs in 2020.
In the circle, the Penguins have posted a 3.61 team ERA, while opposing hitters have batted .247 against them on the year. Junior Elle Buffenbarger (4-2) has worked a team-high 48 innings to this point, striking out 59 while holding hitters to a .235 average thus far.
The Golden Grizzlies enter as losers of six-straight contests as they carry a 7-11 record through 18 outings in 2020. Oakland has struggled at the plate to this point, batting just .233 while averaging 3.78 runs per game. A bright spot offensively has been Madison Jones, however, as the redshirt sophomore is batting .328 with 11 RBI and 15 runs scored after the 2018 Horizon League Freshman of the Year missed all of 2019 due to injury.
In the circle, the Golden Grizzlies carry a 3.89 team ERA while opposing hitters are batting .276 off of the pitching staff in 2020. Freshman Sydnie Campbell (5-4) has worked the majority of the innings so far, tossing 62 while striking out 47 with eight complete-game performances.
Racer Classic History
2020 will mark the fourth edition of the Racer Classic, as the event has taken place every year since Murray State first hosted the tournament during the 2017 season. The Racers hold a 10-2 all-time record at the Racer Classic, and won their first seven games at the event – sweeping five games during 2017 and earning victories in the first two outings of the 2018 tournament. After a loss to conclude the 2018 event, followed by a defeat in the opener in last year’s Racer Classic, Murray State enters this weekend as winners of three-straight Racer Classic contests with wins over Samford (Twice) and Purdue Fort Wayne to close the tournament a year ago.
Friday is an expected high of 54 degrees with cloudy skies and winds blowing to the north/northeast at approximately 12 miles per hour. Chance of precipitation: 10%. As for Saturday, a cloudy high of 45 degrees is the forecast with rain showers likely through the majority of the day. Winds will also blow to the east/northeast – chance of precipitation: 70%. Finally, Sunday looks to be the best day of the bunch, with a cloudy 54 degrees paving the way for afternoon sunshine. Winds of 11 miles per hour to the northeast will also make their presence known at Racer Field – chance precipitation: 10%.
Dan HaskoMedia Relations (SB, Soc, Ten)Murray State University