March 14, 2018

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MARTIN, Tenn. –
After playing the season’s first 24 games on the road, the University of Tennessee at Martin softball team returned to Bettye Giles Field first the first time this season but could not overcome a late run by Southern Illinois, dropping the home opener 2-1.

The Skyhawks (11-14) fell short in their home debut by notching just three hits on the day, spoiling a strong pitching performance. Freshman hurler Caitlin Karo (6-4, 1.75 ERA) was strong once again, allowing just two earned runs in another complete game. The starter would allow seven hits on the day – including a pair in the top of the seventh which proved to be the difference in the game.

Junior Gracyn McBride paced the Skyhawks with two hits on the day while senior Aeron Smith tallied the other. Freshman speedster Veronica Pezzoni would score the Skyhawks lone run of the contest, scoring all the way from first on an error in the bottom of the first inning.

Southern Illinois (14-9) would get on the board in the top of the first inning. The second batter of the inning would be hit by a pitch before moving into scoring position on the next at bat. With the Maddy Vermejan sitting at second, Katelyn Massa would single up the middle to tally her first RBI of the afternoon.

UT Martin charged right back to find the equalizer in the bottom half of the inning. Pezzoni would lead off the inning with a six-pitch walk to set the speedster in motion. On the ensuing at bat, Aalia Bivens would lay down a simple sacrifice bunt but the pitcher Savanna Dover would throw the ball into the outfield on the play as Pezzoni rounded the final two bases to score with ease.

The game would remain tied until the top of the seventh inning. A leadoff double by Vermejan had the Salukis threatening right away. A sacrifice bunt would move the runner over to third base before Massa drove in her second run of the game with a single to right field to take a 2-1 advantage, proving to be the difference in the contest.

UT Martin will look to regroup when playing host to the Skyhawk Hampton Inn Classic on Saturday, March 17 and Sunday, March 18. The Skyhawks will play host to Akron and Northern Kentucky, taking on both squads at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. respectively each day.

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