CHARLESTON, Ill. - The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team got all the offense they needed via a pair of home runs to eliminate No. 8 seed Morehead State 5-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament on Friday afternoon, highlighted by a grand slam off the bat of Kayla Wade.
“Throughout the year when our speedsters Kayla and Leah get on base, they create havoc and give us a great chance to win,” said UT Martin head coach Donley Canary. “Today you saw exactly what we have come to expect from the pair. When you have a combination that has stolen nearly 70 bases and they reach base, we have a great chance of success. You cannot ask for a bigger hit than what Kayla provided and Leah hit a home run along with a single. When we get that type of production from that pair, we’re a successful team.”
“On top of hitting, Kenzi did everything that we asked her to do inside the circle. In the scouting of this team we knew that we had to shut down the top of the order because they’re just as dangerous on the basepaths as our duo. The way Kenzi pitched was dominating and that proved to be the difference in the game.”
Like several games as of late, the Skyhawks fell suspect to defensive miscues as the Eagles scored an unearned run in the top of the first inning to give MSU the early 1-0 lead. After reaching base on a walk, Woodall scampered home after two defensive miscues on the left side of the infield, allowed the Eagles to get in the scoring column.
The UT Martin offense quickly retaliated in the bottom of the first. After Kelsey Dixon was retired, the Skyhawks strung together five hits, including a big bomb which grabbed the lead and more. Seniors Becca Williams and Leah Taylor each reached on a single before Kenzi Tate dropped a blooper into right field. With the bases loaded and two outs, slapper Wade stepped into the box. Faced with a 2-2 count, Wade elevated a line drive, clearing the center field wall for just the junior’s second career home run and first grand slam, giving the Skyhawks the 4-1 lead.
Morehead State added another run in the top of the fourth, as Stephanie Etter scored on an RBI double into the right field gap off the bat of Katie Raile.
UTM added to their lead in the bottom of the sixth as Taylor picked up her second hit of the game with a monster blast over the center field wall, for her 10th home run of the season. The solo home run pushed the Skyhawk advantage to 5-2.
Sophomore Kenzi Tate (18-6) turned in yet another spectacular performance for the Skyhawks picking up the complete game victory, striking out three and allowing zero earned run. Tate allowed just five hits while not issuing a walk through seven innings of work.
With the victory the Skyhawks will advance to play No. 2 seed SIU Edwardsville in the consolation bracket. First pitch is scheduled for 12:30 p.m., following the completion of No. 1 seed Eastern Illinois and No. 3 seed Eastern Kentucky’s contest.