OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team opened up tournament play at the Ole Miss Red and Blue Classic against previously undefeated Buffalo, before falling in extra innings by a score of 6-4.
Junior Casey Vincent led the Skyhawks by making the most of her one base hit on the afternoon, tallying a pair of RBIs. Classmate Kenzi Tate tallied a pair of hits in four plate appearances, tallying an RBI of her own. Senior Kayla Wade was the only other Skyhawk to tally an RBI in the tourney opener, going 1-for-2 on the day, while drawing a walk and scoring a pair of runs.
Tate (2-2) tossed a complete game, tallying 8.0 innings inside the circle. The junior tallied four strikeouts but issued four walks and allowed five earned runs to cross the plate.
Buffalo (6-1) was paced by the standout play of its ace Tori Speckman (5-0) in the circle, tossing 8.0 innings of work while striking out five and allowing just two earned runs. The Bulls saw three players tally two hits on the day, led by the play of Hayley Barrow who went 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs.
The Bulls jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Bulls put two on with one out in the opening inning as Ryder drove in a run with a single to center field. Holly Luciano and Ashton Earnhardt also both had RBIs in the first.
The Skyhawks would get on the board in the bottom of the third with a pair of runs. With one out, Wade would reach first after being hit by a pitch. Taylor Manning would walk, placing runners at first and second with no outs. Tate would tally her lone RBI of the game on the ensuing batter, knocking a single into center field to plate Wade. Vincent would notch her first RBI of the afternoon with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Manning from third.
UT Martin would score the game’s equalizer in the bottom of the fifth inning. After senior Stephanie Nidiffer reached second on a fielding error by the right fielder, she looked to her classmate to bring the pinch runner Bella Zizzi home. Wade would respond by ripping a triple into right field to score Zizzi and bring the Skyhawks and Bulls into a 3-3 tie which would stretch into extra innings.
The Bulls began the eighth inning with a runner at second base with no outs as the international tie breaker came into effect. Following a walk to the leadoff batter, the Bulls moved the pair into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Hayley Barrow would tally the deciding hit, bringing in the duo with a double. Barrow would then come around to score on an RBI groundout from Devon Rodriguez.
The Skyhawks would look to respond in the bottom half of the inning as Wade took her place at second base. After Tate moved Wade to third on a deep fly to right field, Vincent would score the speedster with a single into center field. The Skyhawks would place the potential tying runs in scoring position following a double by Renate Meckl, but could not push the pair across, falling to Buffalo 6-4 in the eighth.
UT Martin will look to rebound when they return to action for a pair of games on Saturday, Feb. 22 as they continue the Red and Blue Classic. The Skyhawks will take on Northern Colorado at 9 a.m. before a quick turnaround against Saint Louis at 11:15 a.m.