NASHVILLE, Tenn. –The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team used a unique collection of strong pitching and balanced scoring production to split Saturday’s Ohio Valley Conference series with Tennessee State at Tiger Field.
Game One: Tennessee State 4, UT Martin 2
The Skyhawks used solid pitching in the circle yet again, but could not muster enough runs to get the victory in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader with the host Tigers in Nashville.
Casey Vincent (7-4) posted yet another solid outing, allowing just two earned run through six innings of work. The young lefty notched six strikeouts and issued one walk on the afternoon.
Tennessee State scored the first four runs of the game after starting the game with a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when the Tigers capitalized on a miscue at short. The Tigers tallied one run in the fourth off the bat of Jayna Hanawahine before two runs crossed the plate in the bottom of the fifth pushing the lead to 4-0.
The Skyhawks began to rally in the top of the seventh as Kenzi Tate led off with a single up the middle. Senior Becca Williams followed a Lauren Smith hit-by-pitch with a single to the right side, to load the bases with no outs. Freshman Deven Wilson tallied the first Skyhawk run as a single into left field plated Autumn Glenn. Fellow classmate Mikala Torrence followed Wilson with her second hit of the day into left field which scored Smith. The Skyhawk rally proved to not be enough as the inning and game ended with a 4-2 Tennessee State advantage.
“We played a disappointing game as we made critical errors that cost us the game, UT Martin head coach Donley Canary said. “Casey once again provided a great pitching performance for our club, but we weren’t able to score enough to make up the difference.”
Game Two: UT Martin 13 – Tennessee State 0
UT Martin wasted no time in game two of the doubleheader, scoring in four of five innings, including posting an eight run inning in the top of the fifth to down Tennessee State 13-0 in five innings.
Torrence picked up her third hit of the day as the young outfield led of the game with a single to the left side. An error off the bat of Leah Taylor scored Torrence before Smith plated the All-American with an RBI single to left giving the Skyhawks the early 2-0 lead in the first.
After back-to-back errors and a hit-by-pitch, UTM had the bases loaded with no outs. Tate then reached on a fielder’s choice at second, scoring Torrence and Wade on an error by Hanawhine.
Junior Kayla Wade lined a single into right field scoring Samantha McClure to push the Skyhawks’ advantage out to 5-0 in the top of the fourth.
The Skyhawks broke out in the top of the fifth as Tate led the inning off with a double in right, followed by a single by Smith. Becca Williams dropped a bunt single, loading the bases with no outs. Freshman Jessie Britt lined an RBI single into left as classmate Rachel Scrum scored from third.
The previously shaky wheels completely fell off for the Tigers as TSU hit three of the next four Skyhawk batters, with a single by Torrence peppered in the mix. Tate responded with the bases loaded by smashing her sixth home run of the season for a grand slam over the left field fence, plating Torrence, Wade and Taylor as the Skyhawks closed their eight run inning.
Tate proceeded to eliminate any chance of a rally as she tallied her third shutout, and eighth complete game of the season, with an easy groundout to end the fifth. The sophomore moved to 10-1 on the season, tallying five strikeouts while allowing just two hits. In the box, Tate went 2-for-4 with one home run and five RBIs.
“I’m proud of the way that our young players were able to step up in the ballgame as Sam McClure and Mikala Torrence provided valuable energy and production in our lineup, said Canary. “Kenzi not only dominated in the circle, but strung together the big hits when needed. I’m proud of the way we bounced back from our first game and played the game that we expect ourselves to produce.”