MARTIN, Tenn. – Donley Canary, the head softball coach at The University of Tennessee at Martin, was looking for some clutch hitting a week ago in the Jimmy John’s Lions Classic at Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond.
Canary, in his 12th year as the Skyhawks skipper, found three clutch hits this week in the Kennesaw Classic in Woodstock, Ga., as his team won three out of four games in the two-day tournament this weekend. The Skyhawks opened the tournament with an 11-10 victory over Mercer; suffered a 2-0 setback to Ball State and then knocked off Kennesaw State 5-4 and UAB 2-0.
“We had a bunch of clutch hits,” Canary said. “We played well. We pitched well and we played great defense.”
Sophomore Kenzi Tate delivered a RBI double as the Skyhawks scored three runs on three hits in the top of the seventh inning to beat Mercer. Senior Leah Taylor delivered the go ahead run with a solo home run to center field in the fifth inning against Kennesaw State. Sophomore Lauren “G” Smith crushed a two-run home run for the offensive burst against UAB.
“Maybe we found some of the answers we have been looking for,” Canary said. “Our (batting) averages might not be good, but we had a lot of positives in this tournament.”
UT Martin 11, Mercer 10
The Skyhawks tagged Mercer pitchers for 12 hits and stole seven bases in the 11-10 victory. The Skyhawks scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to claim the come-from-behind victory.
Five Skyhawks had two hits each in the game, Taylor, Smith, Kayla Wade, Katie Reiff and true freshman Deven Wilson.
Taylor scored three runs and stole three bases in the game, while Wade had three RBI. Wilson drove in a pair of runs to go with her two hits.
Skyhawks stole seven bases in the game. In addition to Taylor’s three steals, Wade, Reiff, Tate and Kristen Lackey successfully stole bases.
In the circle, the Skyhawks used three pitchers, Morgan Lewis, Autumn Glenn and Tate who picked up the win. Tate pitched two innings, gave up two hits, four runs and five walks. She struck out two batters and now sports a 4-0 won-loss worksheet in the circle.
Ball State 2, UT Martin 0
The Skyhawks managed three hits against Ball State, but it wasn’t enough for the victory. Taylor, Stephanie Nidiffer and Becca Williams had one hit each. Sophomore Casey Vincent suffered the loss in the circle despite striking out nine batters. Vincent gave up four hits, four walks and two runs.
UT Martin 5, Kennesaw State 4
Despite having a field day on the base paths in the Kennesaw Classic, Taylor hit a solo home run in the top of the fifth inning to break open a 4-4 tie and give the Skyhawks a 5-4 victory over the tournament host.
The Skyhawks jumped claimed a 4-2 advantage with four runs in the bottom of the third inning. However, Kennesaw State tied the game with two runs in the top of the fourth inning.
The Skyhawks scored their four runs on two hits and two errors. Nidiffer had a single in the inning, while Williams added an RBI double.
Tate earned the win in the circle for the Skyhawks. She pitched seven innings, gave up 10 hits, four runs and a pair of walks. She also struck out five in the game.
UT Martin 2, UAB 0
Smith led the Skyhawks to a 2-0 victory over UAB with a two-run blast to right field in the top of the seventh inning. Her round-tripped plated also played Taylor who reached base on an error by the shortstop.
Vincent earned the win in the circle. She pitched seven innings, gave up eight hits and struck out four. She did not allow a walk.
UAB entered the Kennesaw Classic with a 4-2 win over No. 16 Washington.