February 18, 2018

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The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team broke loose from its offensive struggles in a big way, cruising past Appalachian State in the final game of the Alabama State Black and Gold Tournament 7-2 on Sunday afternoon.

The Skyhawks (3-6) snapped a five-game losing streak behind strong play in every phase of the game. UT Martin tallied eight base hits on the day while drawing five walks to score seven runs. Defensively, the Skyhawks did not commit an error while the pitching staff allowed just two earned runs.

Offensively it was All-OVC honoree Aeron Smith which posted a big day despite never tallying an official at-bat. Three times in the contest, Smith would bring a runner home from third on a sacrifice fly to notch three RBIs on the day without recording a hit. Joining in the action was the trio of Lauren Myers, Alicia Hansen and Savannah Dodson who tallied RBIs on the day to notch a tournament-high run total.

In the circle, sophomore hurler Hannah Ridolfi (2-2, 1.77 ERA) posted her second victory of the season after striking out two and allowing just two earned runs in seven innings of work.

UT Martin would get on the board first in the top of the second inning. Junior Alli Fulcher led off the inning with an infield single before moving all the way over to third base following a walk to Hansen and a stolen base of third. With the potential run standing just 60 feet from home, Smith would loft a sacrifice fly into left field, just deep enough for Fulcher to come home on the play and take an early advantage.

The Skyhawks would add to their margin in the top of the fourth inning as Fulcher once against got the offensive inning started with a leadoff hit, this time a double to left center. Much like the second, Fulcher would move over to third in the inning before coming home on another sacrifice fly to left by Smith. Senior Rachel Williams would then single to left before being pulled for pinch runner Halie Fain who wasted little time on the bags, swiping second before coming home to score on a RBI single by Dodson. With a three-run lead, the Skyhawks added one more as Dodson stole third base before scoring on a RBI single by Myers to make it 4-0.

Appalachian State did its only damage in the bottom of the fourth innings. The Mountaineers would load the bases in the inning, setting up Keri White who scored two of the three with a grounder up the middle to cut the margin in half.

The Skyhawks would put the game out reach in the top of the fifth inning, scoring three runs. Aalia Bivens would start the inning by being hit by a pitch before watching the bases become loaded following walks to Gracyn McBride and Fulcher. With the bases juiced and one out, Hansen would lay down a perfectly placed bunt single to score Bivens on the play before a passed ball allowed pinch runner Paige Clark to score on the ensuing at-bat. Wanting one final run to go on the board, Smith tallied her third RBI of the contest on yet another sacrifice fly to left to score Fulcher and notch the game’s final run.

UT Martin will look to build upon its momentum in its next contest, traveling to the Chattanooga Frost Classic beginning on Friday, Feb. 23.

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