RUSTON, La. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team tallied seven hits in the season opener at the Lady Techster Invitational, but could not overcome the powerful offense of Louisiana Tech dropping the decision 8-3.
The Skyhawks (0-1) were led by the play of junior Lauren Smith and sophomore Jessie Britt who tallied two hits each. Freshman Renate Meckl made a name for herself in her college debut, belting one home run. Smith, Britt and Meckl were responsible for all three RBIs on the afternoon.
Casey Vincent (0-1, 8.75 ERA) got the starting nod in the circle, tossing four innings while allowing eight hits and five earned runs on the afternoon. Freshman Tayler Jerrick made her Skyhawk debut with two innings, allowing two earned runs while registering three strikeouts.
“With it being the first time out, we were able to see some things and we know that our upperclassmen are going to be great leaders for us,” said UT Martin coach Donley Canary. “There are mental mistakes that we have to correct, physical mistakes will happen, but we have to limit our mental errors and that proved to be the difference in the game. Regardless, the sun will rise tomorrow and we’re looking forward to getting back out there.”
Louisiana Tech (1-0) tallied 10 hits on the afternoon while scoring eight runs. The Lady Techsters were led by the play of Alayna Kipp who went 3-for-4 from the plate, driving in a game-high five RBIs. Biana Duran got the victory with three innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits.
The Lady Techsters got the afternoon started with an explosive first inning, tallying three runs on three hits. After consecutive singles to open the inning, Kipp ripped a double down the left field line to score a pair of runs. Tech would add another run on a groundout to end the scoring threat.
Louisiana Tech would tally another pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth after Hailey Winter launched a home run over the left field fence before another run crossed the plate on an error.
The Skyhawks would break into the scoring column in the following inning as Meckl blasted her first career home run to left field. With the solo blast, the Skyhawks trailed 5-1 in the top of the fifth.
The Lady Techsters would respond in the bottom half of the inning as Kipp once again found her stroke. After swiping second following a leadoff hit batsman, Kipp singled into center field to score the Tech baserunner.
Kipp would not be done for the home squad. Following a single and another hit batsman, Kipp ripped her third hit of the ballgame down the left field line for the two run double.
The Skyhawks would make their final surge in the top of the seventh inning. After reaching on an error, Meckl scampered to second base on a wild pitch. Smith quickly switched places with the freshman stroking a single into centerfield before advancing to second on the throw. Britt would cap her sizzling start with a double of her own down the left field line to score Smith. With the pair of runs in the top of the seventh, the Skyhawks cut the final run differential, but would fall 8-3.
UT Martin will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 8 when the continue play in the Lady Techster Invitational. The Skyhawks will face off against Houston Baptist at 11:15 a.m. before taking on Wichita State at 1:30 p.m.