February 24, 2017

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Saint Louis: Boxscore        PDF

Western Michigan: Boxscore         PDF

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team benefited from a pair of dynamic pitching performances as the duo of Brooke Kennedy and Sara Hooten notched shutout victories on the opening day of the Chattanooga Frost Classic on Friday afternoon. The Skyhawks defeated Saint Louis 1-0 before knocking off Western Michigan 9-0 in the second half of the doubleheader.

The Skyhawks improved to 9-1 on the season, serving as the best start to a campaign since the 2010 season – a year in which the program won its first Ohio Valley Conference championship. A big part in the Skyhawks early success has been the team’s ability to balance a potent scoring attack along with stingy pitching performances. UT Martin has outscored its opponent 85-22 on the season while posting a team ERA of 2.26 in the pitching circle with four shutouts – two of which came today.

UT Martin outlasted Saint Louis in the opening game of the tournament by scoring the game’s lone run in the top of the seventh inning before watching Kennedy shut the door once again. The Skyhawks then came back in the second game of the day by outscoring Western Michigan 9-0 to notch its second shutout on the arm of Hooten.

The right-handed pair of Kennedy and Hooten were electric from the start, combining for a pair of shutouts while limiting their opponents to just eight hits in 14 innings of work while striking out 18 batters. Kennedy improved to 5-0 on the season, lowering her ERA to 2.71 on the season by striking out nine and allowing just five hits in her first shutout of the year. Hooten improved to 2-1 while watching her ERA drop to just 0.78 after striking out nine and allowing just three hits. Combined the duo held their opponents to just a .160 batting average in the two games.

Offensively, the Skyhawks relied on the bat of junior lefty Jodie Duncan who posted a monster day, going 6-for-7 with a double, a home run and four RBIs on the day. Fellow junior Aeron Smith also posted multiple RBIs, tallying a pair on two hits while Rachel Williams also notched an RBIs. Along with the strong play by the junior class, sophomore Jessie Douglas also made the most of her two hits by driving in the eventual game-winning run against Saint Louis.

Game 1: UT Martin 1, Saint Louis 0

The Skyhawks would open the tournament posting its lowest scoring performance of the season against a tough Saint Louis squad. Despite the lack of offense for the Skyhawks, the afternoon would be even more difficult for the Billikens who matched up against Kennedy at her best.

Kennedy dominated throughout the contest, limiting the Billikens to just three base hits with two of them coming in the second inning alone. Saint Louis would tally a pair of singles in the bottom of the second but would strand the runners on first and second – serving as the team’s best scoring chance of the afternoon.

After the second inning the Kennedy and the Skyhawks would challenge for the team’s go-ahead run. The Skyhawks would tally hits in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings but would fail to string a solid scoring opportunity together until the seventh inning.

With the game still knotted at zero heading into the seventh inning, UT Martin pushed to give Kennedy the offensive support she needed. The inning would look to stall as the first two batters recorded outs before the Skyhawks came alive. Smith would get the scoring opportunity started by lacing a double into left center. As the Skyhawks faced their first chance with a runner in scoring position, Douglas would come through with a bloop single to right with allowed Smith to come home on the play and give the squad a 1-0 advantage.

Playing with her first lead of the contest, Kennedy would put the game away in the bottom half of the inning with three consecutive strikeouts to end the game.

Game 2: UT Martin 9, Western Michigan 0

After a slow start to begin its stay in the Frost Classic, UT Martin wasted little time in its second contest taking a significant lead. Senior Carly Gonzales would lead off the inning with an opposite field single before moving herself into scoring position by swiping her eighth bag of the season before moving over to third following a sacrifice bunt. With the runner just 60 feet away from home, Williams would bring in the speedster with a single to put the Skyhawks on the board. The following at-bat would see Renate Meckl reach base via a fielder’s choice – placing a pair of runners on the paths for Smith who notched a single of her own to score both Williams and Meckl on the play. The Skyhawks would then cap off the four-run first inning with a RBI single by Duncan to score Smith.

The Skyhawks would add to their advantage in the top of the third inning. Back-to-back fielder’s choice plays and an error would result in a pair of runner on the base paths. With yet another prime scoring opportunity, Duncan would come through once again with a two-run double to score both Smith and Alli Fulcher on the play, giving the squad a 6-0 advantage.

Behind the strong pitching performance of Hooten throughout the contest, the Broncos struggled to string together scoring chances. As a whole, Western Michigan would tally five base hits, scattering them over the first four innings. After allowing a base hit in the bottom of the fourth inning, Hooten would sit the Broncos down in order over the final three innings of play.

With the game already in control, UT Martin would find additional insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning. A pair of errors on one play would result in the Skyhawks first run of the inning before a two-run home run by Duncan capped off her remarkable day by giving the Skyhawks a nine-run advantage.

UT Martin will return to action with another doubleheader on Day Two of the Chattanooga Frost Classic on Saturday, Feb. 25. The Skyhawks will matchup against Fairleigh Dickinson at 10 a.m. before taking on tournament host Chattanooga at 3 p.m.

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