LENOX – Stanton hopped on the board first Wednesday, but Murray scored nine unanswered runs to advance to the Class 1A Region 3 semifinal by a 9-1 final.
The Lady Mustangs will take on Class 1A No. 1 Collins-Maxwell Friday at 7 p.m. at Collins-Maxwell High School for a chance to play in the regional final the following Monday.
For Murray it was the bottom of the lineup that did the most damage as the Lady Mustangs’ 7-8-9 hitters went a combined 5-for-9 with six RBIs to carry Murray’s bats.
It was eight-hole hitter Chloe Church who got the scoring started for Murray after smacking an RBI single in the second inning.
Eighth grader Teryn Shields followed it up with an RBI base hit of her own as the Lady Mustangs plated three runs in the second inning.
“My younger guys came through. Church was on fire,” said Murray head coach Danny Jensen.
Murray allowed the game’s first run in the top half of the opening inning, but after that it was Lady Mustangs.
In the third inning the bottom of the order continued to produce as Kendra Boles drove in Kayla Wookey and Bailey Frederick with a single before Church stepped back to the plate.
An inning after her RBI single, Church plated two more runs in the third with a double into the outfield as she ended her day 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
Church came into the contest with nine RBIs on the season. Frederick, who scored runs in the second and third, ended the day 4-4 with four singles.
“Her hitting is really coming around. She spends a little bit of time in the (batting) cage and it’s paying off,” said Jensen of Frederick.
After the seven total runs in second and third innings, the Lady Mustangs were firmly in control of a Stanton club that came into the contest with a 12-10 record.
Kelli Romero and Bre Klein drove in Murray’s last two runs in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively.
Klein, who pitched all seven innings for Murray, allowed the first run of the contest after a leadoff walk. It didn’t take the senior long to settle in as she finished the contest with 10 strikeouts and only one more walk.
“She starting throwing that inside stuff and she was jamming them a little bit,” said Jensen. “Then we went to the changeup ... and that mixed them up a little bit.”
The Lady Mustang hurler struck out the side in the sixth inning and allowed Stanton five hits.
With the win in the bag, Jensen and the rest of the Lady Mustangs have turned their sights to their next test Friday.
For Jensen, it will be his 1,300th career game at the helm turning in the starting lineups and he knows the tall task ahead in the defending state champs.
Jensen got a good look at the Spartans at last year’s state tournament and hopes to get his offense going early on.
“If we can put some pressure on. They haven’t had any pressure all year,” said Jensen. “Toughness all the way.”
The 40-year head coach will be left with a tough decision as to who will get the start in the circle for the Lady Mustangs – a decision he is leaving to his group.
“I had a front row seat for all three of their games at the state tournament last year,” Jensen said. “... Coach (Tessa) Otto and I are going to talk to the two pitchers and we’re going to kind of rely on them for a little bit of input. We’re going to kind of make a team decision.”
Murray 9, Stanton 1
R H E
Stan 100 000 0 — 1 5 3
Murr 034 110 x — 9 15 1
Stan: Kaitlyn Bruce 0K 1BB, Elise Dailey (4) 2K 0BB and Sami York. Murr: Breianna Klein 10K 2BB and Kelli Romero. W — Klein (14-4). L – Bruce (5-6). 3B: Murr: Teryn Shields 1. 2B — Murr: Chloe Church 1. RBI — Church 3, Kendra Boles 2, Klein 1, Romero 1, Shields 1. Multiple hits — Stan: Dailey 2. Murr: Bailey Frederick 4, Klein 2, Shields 2, Church 2, Hailey Chew 2.