SKYHAWK SOFTBALL CLINCHES OVC CHAMPIONSHIP BERTH WITH SWEEP OF BELMONT
April 29, 2017
Game One: Boxscore PDF
Game Two: Boxscore PDF
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team clinched its 16th berth to the Ohio Valley Conference Softball Championship in the past 17 seasons behind a doubleheader sweep of Belmont on Saturday afternoon. The Skyhawks won a pair of games at E.S. Rose Park by scores of 6-4 and 8-5 on the afternoon.
The Skyhawks (34-15, 11-4 OVC) tallied 14 runs in the doubleheader while tallying four home runs and 14 RBIs. Juniors Aeron Smith and Rachel Williams paced the team with three base hits on the day while the duo along with classmate Alicia Hansen each drove in three RBIs. Four different players notched home runs on the afternoon with Williams, Hansen, Jodie Duncan and Gracyn McBride adding to their season total. Meanwhile, the nation’s third ranked program in terms of total steals swiping five on the afternoon.
Despite facing a dangerous Bruins batting order, strong winds blowing out would post another challenge for the Skyhawk pitching staff. Despite the challenges, UT Martin would deploy all four of the team’s arms en route to a series sweep. Samantha Scott (4-4, 3.50) earned her fourth victory of the season after allowing just one earned run in five innings of relief to win Game One. Brooke Kennedy (18-5, 3.01 ERA) tallied a new single-season high for victories with her 18th win of the season while improving to 8-0 in league play after pitching 4.2 innings. Sara Hooten and Seeley Layne also saw action, combining to allow three earned runs.
Game One: UT Martin 6, Belmont 4
UT Martin would get out on top of the contest in the second inning, taking its first lead of the day. After Smith would be hit by a pitch, Hansen would enter the game looking to change the contest with her speed. The speedster would quickly swipe second before advancing to third on a wild pitch. With the runner just 60 feet from home, Reid Ballard would bring Hansen home to score on a sacrifice bunt.
The Skyhawks looked to add to their lead in the top of the third inning. A leadoff walk to Carly Gonzales followed by an infield single by Lauren Myers would put two runners on base with one out. A sacrifice bunt would move the pair of runners into scoring position before Williams drove a three-run home run to left field to give the Skyhawks a 4-0 lead.
Facing a four-run deficit, Belmont would respond in the bottom half of the inning. Baylee Cook would reach via a single before later coming home to score on a two-run home run to right field by Hayley Baker, cutting the margin in half.
The Bruins would continue to climb back into the contest with a pair of runs in the fifth and sixth innings. A sacrifice fly by Baker would bring the team’s third run home in the fifth inning before a RBI single by Jordan Spicer tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning.
With the game tied after seven innings, the game would head to extra innings. Facing just its second extra innings contest of the season, the Skyhawks looked for a clutch hit to scratch out a victory. A leadoff single by Williams would get the inning started before Jessie Douglas reached base via a fielder’s choice. Following a stolen base by Douglas to put runners on second and third, Smith would stroke a two-run single down the right field line to score the go-ahead and eventual game-winning runs.
Game Two: UT Martin 8, Belmont 5
With a big win already on the day, UT Martin wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in the second half of the doubleheader. After a pair of outs to start the inning, McBride would connect on the fourth pitch of the at bat, sailing a solo home run over the centerfield wall.
The Skyhawks added another run in the top of the second as Duncan led off the frame with a double to center field. With a runner in scoring position, Smith would tally her third RBI of the afternoon with a single up the middle to bring Duncan home to score and take a 2-0 lead.
UT Martin stayed aggressive in the top of the third, scoring in its third consecutive inning. The first two Skyhawks would reach base following a walk and a double before Duncan plated Gabby Zizzi on a RBI groundout. With Williams now on third base, Alli Fulcher would turn on a pitch and dump a double into left center to score the second run of the inning. Fulcher later came all the way home to score on a sacrifice bunt by Hansen to make it a five-run advantage.
Facing a significant deficit once again, Belmont began to push back in the bottom of the fourth. Following a single by Shersty Stanton, Spicer would launch a two-out home run to left center to trim the margin to 5-2.
With the margin narrowed down a bit, UT Martin looked for some extra run support in the top of the fifth. With one out Duncan would pull a solo home run to right field while Hansen followed up a single by Smith with a two-run home run to left center – her first home run of the season.
The Bruins would add three runs in the final innings but would only get as close as 8-5 down the stretch.
UT Martin will return to action on Sunday, April 30 with a trip across Nashville to Tennessee State for a doubleheader. First pitch from Tiger Field is scheduled for 1 p.m.