MARTIN, Tenn. –The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team used 21 runs including five home runs to pound their way past Missouri Valley Conference foe Evansville in Wednesday’s doubleheader by scores of 12-4 and 9-7, taking both games.
“Any time you can score 21 runs in two games, that speaks volumes of your team,” said UT Martin head coach Donley Canary. “Earlier in the season we struggled with consistency and the maturity to tack on additional runs when the opportunities presented themselves. Today you were able to see our team from top to bottom, push the extra run across the plate and not get complacent. Mid-week games help you stay sharp for the conference schedule and today I think we took advantage of that opportunity as we prepare for a crucial road test this weekend.”
Game One: UT Martin 12, Evansville 4
UT Martin (25-9, 7-2 OVC) dug themselves an early holes in game one as Evansville plated two runs in the top of the first inning as the Skyhawks suffered a mental lapse at second, resulting in a pair of scores for the road team.
The Skyhawks quickly recovered as senior Leah Taylor led off the inning with a single past the third baseman. Soon after Lauren Smith, riding a .619 average over the past eight games, smashed a towering home run over the center field batter’s eye distancing nearly 250 feet, scoring Mikala Torrence from second and tying the game at two runs each.
The Purple Aces (10-21) added two runs in the top of the fourth as Kirsten O’Conner singled to right field before scoring on an infield base hit by Brianna Villanueva.
Trailing by two, the Skyhawks took control in the fifth inning after plating four runners in the bottom half of the inning. Reaching base on a walk, Taylor quickly stole her 27th base of the season before scoring on an RBI single by Torrence. Torrence spent little time on the bases as sophomore Kenzi Tate notched her seventh home run of the season, scoring the pair and taking the 5-4 advantage. Smith continued her hot stroke, sneaking a bunt single on the UE defense. Kayla Wade, pinch running for Smith, swiped her 23rd base of the season before scoring on an RBI single by Jessie Britt.
The Skyhawks issued the final blow in the bottom of the six, the last inning of the game as Deven Wilson began the inning by driving a single into center. Sam McClure kept the rally going by registering her third hit of the campaign, before scoring on an error by the third baseman. Smith soon walked before a Becca Williams double moved the runners to second and third with two outs. The game then met its’ climax as Britt capped the six run inning and the game with a walk-off three run home run, the freshman’s second of the season.
Casey Vincent (10-4, 2.18 ERA) registered her 10th win on the season, allowing three runs in five innings of work. Freshman Autumn Glenn (1-0, 2.10 ERA) was called upon in the top of the sixth with runners on first and second, no outs. Glenn quickly extinguished the Evansville threat, striking out the final batter and escaping the situation with her first save of her career while allowing no inherited runners to score.
Game Two: UT Martin 9, Evansville 7
Like game one, the Purple Aces got on the board first in game two. Kayla Fortner followed Tamara Robey’s double with a two-bagger of her own to plate the opening run, giving Evansville their only lead of the game.
The Skyhawks saw Evansville’s one run and quickly raised them three of their own, pushing across four runs in the bottom of the first. Kelsey Dixon quickly capitalized on just her 10th start of the season, drawing a lead-off walk and swiping second. Following a Taylor walk, Tate scorched a line drive single into right field before scampering to third as the ball slid between the defender’s legs, scoring Dixon and Taylor on the play. Smith then extended her 10-game hitting streak with a screamer up the middle. Williams jolted the fans to their feet, nailing a two run home run over the left field fence to cap the inning.
Taylor joined the firework in the bottom of the third, sailing a 240 foot solo home run over the center field wall, giving the Skyhawks the 5-1 lead.
The Skyhawks tallied their third, four run inning of the day in the sixth inning, capitalizing on UE defensive miscues. After reaching on a walk, Williams scored on a Wilson single up the middle. Wilson and Britt, motoring the bases, scored on a throwing error by the Purple Aces pitcher before McClure scored the Skyhawks final run of the day on a wild pitch.
The Purple Aces wouldn’t go down quietly in the top of the seventh, scoring five runs, including a grand slam to bring the score no closer than 9-7, as Tate got final batter to fly out to left.
Tate (14-1, 2.44 ERA) earned her ninth consecutive win while allowing just two earned runs in the sophomore’s 11th complete game of the season. Tate struck out four while walking just two. In the batter’s box, she hit .400 with one home run and three RBIs in the series.
The Skyhawks will now turn their focus on a pivotal Ohio Valley Conference road trip, with doubleheaders against Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State on the weekend. UTM will play the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles with first pitch of Saturday’s doubleheader set for noon before heading across state lines to play Jacksonville State at 1 p.m. in the Sunday twinbill.