CHARLESTON, Ill. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team needed extra innings in the opening round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament before falling to the No. 4 seed Murray State Racers with a walk-off double by a score of 2-1 in the eighth inning.
“Our girls fought tough throughout the game as our pitching was our strength,” said UT Martin head coach Donley Canary. “Casey and Kenzi pitched terrific innings and kept us in the ball game until the end. We would have preferred for a different outcome, but we still have games to play so we have to learn from this experience and turn this setback into a positive with Morehead State tomorrow.”
The game got off to a bumpy start in the first inning, after the Racers retired the first three Skyhawk batters in order in the top of the inning, Murray State pushed across the game’s opening run in the bottom of the first. The Racers reached on an infield single before a Skyhawk error allowed runners on first and second. The Racers would later push across their first run with a single up the middle, giving MSU the early lead.
UT Martin quickly retaliated in the top of the second as sophomore Kenzi Tate led off the inning with a single into left center. After senior Becca Williams moved Tate into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, the Skyhawks turned to recently named All-OVC first baseman Lauren Smith. Facing a 0-2 count with two outs, Smith lined a rope double into the left field gap to score Tate from second and knot the game at 1-1.
The Skyhawks threatened in the fourth and sixth innings, but were not able to push across the go-ahead run in either inning as the Racers stranded four Skyhawk base runners in the two innings combined.
The Skyhawks and Racers went scoreless for five combined innings, forcing extra innings where the Racers’ Ellyn Troup registered a walk-off double into the right field gap to score Casey Castile from first base to score the deciding 2-1 victory.
Sophomore duo of Kelsey Dixon and Tate went 2-for-4 respectively, with Tate scoring the only UTM run of the ballgame.
Casey Vincent got the start for the Skyhawks, pitching 4.2 innings while allowing no earned runs. Tate (17-6) appeared in relief, pitching three innings and earning the hard-fought loss. Tate struck out three while allowing just one walk.
The Skyhawks will move into the consolation bracket where they will face off against No. 8 seed Morehead State on Thursday, May 9. First pitch from Williams Field on the campus of Eastern Illinois University is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.