MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team sent their three seniors out with a win in their final game on Bettye Giles Field as the host Skyhawks defeated Eastern Illinois to wrap up the home slate and earning the series split with the Ohio Valley Conference leading Panthers 2-1.
Prior to first pitch of the doubleheader, the Skyhawks recognized their senior trio of Katie Reiff, Leah Taylor and Becca Williams. The trio was part of only the second Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship, along with the program’s second trip to the NCAA Tournament after winning the 2012 OVC Tournament. Together, the 2013 seniors have combined for 281 hits, 34 home runs, 157 RBI, 128 stolen bases and 227 runs scored over their Skyhawk careers.
“We have strong pitching and our pitching was very good today,” said UT Martin head coach Donley Canary. “We decided to try and mix up the lineup today with the order and we got some results but we’re still trying to get back to our consistency. Casey and Kenzi produced great efforts in the circle and gave us a chance to win both games.”
Game one: Eastern Illinois 2, UT Martin 1
Falling in line with many of the recent games, the Skyhawks gave up an early run in the first inning to the visiting Panthers. EIU began the game by picking up a lead-off walk before adding a single through the left side. The Panthers got on the board first with an RBI by Brooke Owens to the second baseman.
UT Martin (31-18, 12-10 OVC) got on the board in the bottom of the sixth as designated player Kelsey Dixon hit a lead-off home run over the right field fence, the first of the sophomore’s career, to tie the game at 1-1.
Seplak liner through the right side evaded the second baseman which resulted in an error, scoring the baserunner from first before the Skyhawks nailed Seplak in a pickle between third and home.
The score proved to be the decision as the Skyhawks were retired in order in the bottom half of the inning.
Sophomore Kenzi Tate (16-5, 2.62 ERA) was hit with the tough loss, pitching her 15th complete game. Tate struck out two while allowing just one earned run and just one walk.
Game two: UT Martin 2, Eastern Illinois
Sophomore Casey Vincent had a first pitch hiccup, allowing a quick home run but settled down to notch her 17th complete game and 13 win on the season. Vincent allowed just one run over seven innings while registering three punchouts and no walks.
Taylor continued to leave her mark at UT Martin in the fourth inning. After breaking a hitless streak, Taylor singled through the left side before quickly swiping her 37th base of the season and 108th of her career. Tate tallied a five pitch walk before Deven Wilson sacrificed the runners into scoring position. Kayla Wade pushed the Skyhawks into the scoring column with a single up the middle to score Taylor. After Wade swiped a bag for herself, Lauren Smith sacrificed deep to center to score Tate from third and give the home team their first lead of the series.
EIU threatened in the top of the sixth as they registered two hits but the Skyhawks extinguished the final threat and took the series split with the 2-1 victory.
With the win the Skyhawks secured a spot in the OVC tournament hosted by the league’s top seed. The defending OVC tournament champions will make their fifth consecutive appearance in the tournament scheduled for May 8-11.