March 5, 2017

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OXFORD, Miss. –
The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team battled No. 23 nationally ranked Southeastern Conference member Ole Miss, posting a valiant comeback attempt before ultimately falling 10-7 on the final day of the Red and Blue Classic on Sunday.

The Skyhawks (15-3) saw the team’s five-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of one of the nation’s best programs in Ole Miss – dropping the informal championship game of the Red and Blue Classic. Despite the final score, the Skyhawks posted an impressive showing in front of a national audience by tying the game in the sixth inning after facing a deficit as large as six runs early in the contest.

Seven different Skyhawks tallied hits on the day while Lauren Myers and Jodie Duncan each notched multi-hit contests. Myers also paced the team with a pair of RBIs while Alli Fulcher and Gracyn McBride each drove in a run on the afternoon. Along with the team’s hitting ability, Carly Gonzales (two) and Rachel Williams (one) each notched stolen bases.

In the pitching circle, three different players saw action for UT Martin. Brooke Kennedy lasted just 2.2 innings after allowing seven runs – including five earned – on eight hits and two walks. Freshman Seeley Layne (2-1, 2.25 ERA) entered in relief and picked up the tough loss after tossing 2.2 innings of relief, allowing three runs while striking out three. Sara Hooten also saw action, pitching 0.2 innings while allowing one hit and two inherited runners to score.

No. 23 Ole Miss improved to 17-2 on the year behind a balanced offensive performance. Elantra Cox tallied three base hits while Kylan Becker, Alyssa Gonzales and Courtney Syrett tallied multi-hit contests. Gonzales joined Brittany Finney and Sarah Van Schaik with two RBIs each.

The Rebels would jump out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning as they tallied back-to-back singles to start the frame. Two runs would score on a RBI single by Finney before an error scored the team’s third. The home team would add one more run in the inning as Syrett tallied an infield single to score Finney and take a four-run advantage.

The home squad would add to its lead in the second inning as two of the first three batters reached base in the inning. With runners on first and second, A. Gonzales would bring the pair in with a double to right center.

Facing a six-run deficit, UT Martin would start its comeback attempt in the third inning. The Skyhawks would have their first two batters reach base before the team’s first run scored on a throwing error to score pinch runner Gabby Zizzi. With Savannah Dodson and C. Gonzales both on base, Myers would hit an opposite field double to score the pair and trim the margin to 6-3.

Ole Miss would push the team’s lead back up to four runs in the bottom half of the third. Syrett would get the scoring inning started with a double to left center before a single up the middle by Cox drove the run home on the play.

UT Martin would strike back in the fifth inning by trimming the margin down again. Myers would draw a walk before later advancing all the way home later on the inning following three different wild pitches. With one run in, Fulcher would add another by singling through the left side to score Williams.

The Skyhawks would cap off their comeback attempt in the sixth inning. McBride would start the frame by drilling a first-pitch strike over the center field wall – marking her second of the season. The squad would look for the game’s equalizer later in the inning as C. Gonzales tripled down the left field line. After Williams would be hit by a pitch to put runners on first and third, UT Martin would pull out all of the stops and convert a double-steal of second and home to tie the game at 7-7.

Despite the valiant comeback attempt by the Skyhawks, Ole Miss would flex its muscles once again in the bottom of the sixth inning to ultimately string together the different in the game. Strother tallied a RBI single before Van Schaik came off the bench and laced a two-run single to prove the final difference in the game at 10-7.

UT Martin will return to action with five games over the next week. The Skyhawks will take on UC Riverside in a pair of games on Thursday, March 9 before participating in the Highlander Classic over the weekend.

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