May 11, 2013

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CHARLESTON, Ill. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team depended on clutch hitting a gutsy pitching performance to survive and advance in the consolation bracket of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, eliminating No. 3 Eastern Kentucky 4-3.

UT Martin’s Kayla Wade led the Skyhawks with two hits, including a two-run home run. Senior Becca Williams also tallied two hits in three plate appearances. Leah Taylor and Kenzi Tate each added an RBI each in the ballgame.

The Skyhawks turned to sophomore RHP Tate (19-6, 2.73 ERA) for today’s decision, notching her 19th win on the season and her 17th complete game of the season. Tate tallied five strikeouts while only allowing two walks and three earned runs.

“I could not have been more proud of the way our girls competed today,” said UT Martin head coach Donley Canary. “Anytime you are playing multiple games in a single day where it is win or go home, it takes a special group of kids. You saw Kenzi absolutely gut out her performance and gave us enough to advance.”

Much like the last two games in the tournament, UT Martin came out firing on all cylinders, taking the early lead in the top of the first. Kayla Wade, normally known for her slapping ability, cranked her third career home run and second of the tournament for an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first after a lead-off single by Kelsey Dixon.

The Skyhawks got on the board again in the third inning. Wade picked up her second hit of the game with a single up the middle, then switched gears as she swiped her 32 stolen base of the season. Wade’s time to rest was minimal as clean-up hitter Kenzi Tate drove a single up the middle, scoring Wade from second and extending the Skyhawks lead to 3-0.

The visiting Colonels wasted little time getting back into the game, plating three runs in the top of the fourth inning. EKU strung together a solo home run and a trio of singles to even the score at 3-3.

UTM took the lead back in the bottom half of the inning as Dixon reached on a fielding error after a Lindsey Feigl walk. Back-to-back walks by Wade and Leah Taylor proved to be costly as Taylor notched an RBI with a bases loaded walk, giving the Skyhawks the 4-3 advantage after four innings of work.

The Colonels threatened heavily in innings final three innings before the Skyhawks left four EKU base runners stranded to extinguish the threat. The game was capped off when freshman Autumn Glenn snagged a line drive down the third base line before rifling the ball to first to register a double play to end the game.

With the win the Skyhawks will play No. 4 seed Murray State for the second time in the OVC Tournament. First pitch of the rematch is scheduled for 9 a.m., Sunday, May 12. The winner of the morning matchup will move into the championship game to meet No. 6 seed Jacksonville State at 11:30 a.m.

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