CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team pounded out four home runs en route to plating 25 runs in today’s Ohio Valley Conference doubleheader sweep over host Southeast Missouri 11-9 and 14-5.
After recent offensive struggles, the Skyhawks (33-18, 14-10 OVC) erupted for 27 hits in today’s twinbill. Sophomore Kenzi Tate, the team’s leading offensive member, expanded her staggering numbers by going 6-for-9 with one home run and six RBIs. Lauren Smith, Casey Vincent and Deven Wilson all added three RBIs each.
“I was very pleased with the way our girls came out and competed today,” said UT Martin head coach Donley Canary. “We’ve had some struggles recently but when you tally 27 hits and push across 25 runs, you stand a good chance. There are still things to work on, but it’s great to see our young players like Deven and Lindsey produce and give us that spark today.”
Game One: UT Martin 11, Southeast Missouri 9
In a game which saw six lead changes and 20 combined runs, the Skyhawks came out victories over the host Redhawks 11-9 in Game 1.
UT Martin got on the board in the first inning as Leah Taylor singled up the middle with two outs. Taylor quickly shifted gears, swiping her 38th base and passing her own UTM single season record of 37. Tate let the speedster continue to shuffle, singling up the middle to score Taylor from second.
After the Redhawks tied the game in the bottom of the first, UTM got back on the board in the second. Williams led off the inning with a single up the middle. Smith drove a ball into deep right field, scoring Williams from third on a sacrifice fly and giving the Skyhawks the 2-1 advantage.
The game was once again tied heading into the top of the third, until the Skyhawks broke the game open with a five run inning. After Kelsey Dixon reached on an error, Kayla Wade reached on an infield single. Taylor then loaded the bases with another infield single with Tate waiting in the wings. Tate made the Redhawks pay, singling up the middle and plating Dixon and Wade before Taylor eventually scored on a throwing error. Smith followed a Wilson single, with a double into right, scoring Tate and Wilson.
Wade continued to move up the all-time leader boards, scampering for her eighth triple of the season into left center. Taylor let Wade catch her breath, driving a two run home run into deep center, allowing Wade to jog home.
The Skyhawks added two runs in the top of the sixth as Tate drove in yet another run before the host Redhawks came to life in the bottom half of the innings. After a pair of walks and a single, SEMO hit a grand slam and a solo blast to left center to bring the host within two.
The Redhawks would threaten in the seventh, but UTM would withhold the rally and grab the 11-9 victory.
Despite the offensive numbers, Tate (17-5, 2.88 ERA) used her strong right arm to earn her team-leading 17th victory in the circle. Tate picked up three strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work. Freshman Autumn Glenn pitched 1.2 innings, earning her second save of the season.
Game Two: UT Martin 14, Southeast Missouri 5
UT Martin used three home runs from unlikely heroes to down host Southeast Missouri in Game 2 of the three game series, extending the Skyhawks winning streak to three.
After giving up two early runs in the bottom of the first inning to the host Redhawks, the Skyhawks quickly continued where they left off from Game 1, tallying five runs in the top of the second inning.
Tate got the offense started in the second by doubling into right field. After being moved to third, Wilson tallied her first RBI of the day with a single into right. Smith followed the single by pulling a double of her own down the left field line. Vincent quickly followed with a double into left center, plating Smith and Jessie Britt. Sophomore Lindsey Feigl took advantage of her start at second base, lifting her first career home run over the left field wall, scoring two and rounding out the inning for the visiting Skyhawks.
The Skyhawks didn’t stay quiet for long, using the fifth inning to separate themselves from their opponent. After Wilson reached on an error and Vincent singled into left, Feigl capitalized once again, singling into left and loading the bases with one out. Dixon took a bases loaded walk, scoring Wilson. Wade soon joined the action, placing a double into left field, resulting in two RBIs. Wade would later score as the Skyhawks pushed across four runs in the inning.
Williams got the sixth inning started, drawing a walk. Smith picked up her second of three hits with a single to left, advancing Williams into scoring position. Vincent then picked up her third RBI of the game as she singled into right field, scoring Williams and pushing the Skyhawk lead out to 10-3.
Southeast Missouri set the first two batters down with ease, but the Skyhawk offense would not go down so easily. Faced with two outs, Taylor drew a walk. Tate, the Skyhawks home run leader, launched a two run home run over the center field wall, scoring Taylor. Williams followed the blast by reaching base once again before Wilson drove a deep fly over the left field fence, plating the pair.
The host Redhawks would threaten in the bottom of the seventh, pushing across two runs but was not enough as UTM killed the rally and took the sweep of the day.
Hitting wasn’t the only thing that Vincent (14-8, 2.40 ERA) excelled at, notching her 26th complete game and 14th win of the season inside the circle. Vincent struck out four batters while not allowing a walk and three earned runs.
The Skyhawks will be back in action tomorrow, May 5, as both teams close out the regular season with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. With a win, UTM will secure the No. 4 seed in next week’s OVC tournament, set to begin on Wednesday.