EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Head coach for The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team Donley Canary has been looking for consistency in his team’s bats throughout the early non-conference slate. Canary’s Skyhawks wasted little time in the Ohio Valley Conference opening doubleheader as the team tallied 17 hits while belting two home runs to split the twinbill with host SIU Edwardsville Cougars Saturday afternoon.
“The girls really competed in a tough environment today as you saw two great, young teams vie for victory,” Canary said. “SIU Edwardsville is a very tough team with power arms and strong bats. Our girls were able to tally 17 hits on the day and we saw the seniors provide clutch performances. Reiff really set the tone in the second game with the home run and two singles. The team saw her example, added and never looked back.”
Game 1: SIU Edwardsville 8 – UT Martin 6
UT Martin dropped a highly contested OVC opener to the hands of the Cougars as the game saw the lead change hands six times before three late runs in the sixth provided to be too much in the contest.
The Skyhawks got on the board in the second inning as freshman Deven Wilson drove in fellow freshman pinch runner Mikala Torrence following a Lauren Smith lead-off walk.
The Cougars quickly responded with a two-run inning of their own in the bottom of the second as Brittany Toney hit a solo home run and Chelsea Yankolovich plated one with an RBI double.
UT Martin regained the lead in the top of the fourth with four runs, taking the 5-2 advantage. Wilson once again showed maturity at the plate, forcing a walk with the bases loaded to score Smith. Kayla Wade singled to short scoring Stephanie Nidiffer with two outs. Senior Leah Taylor soon lined a ball into centerfield scoring Lindsey Feigl and Jessie Britt to cap off the inning’s scoring output.
The Cougars brought the game to a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the fifth as Alex McDavid hit a home run over the center field fence followed by three consecutive singles plating two.
Kenzi Tate tallied the Skyhawks final run in the top of the sixth with a sacrifice fly, scoring one.
SIU Edwardsville responded with three base hits in the bottom of the sixth, including the deciding two RBI double off the bat of Kayla Riggs to give the Cougars the 8-6 victory.
Sophomore Casey Vincent (6-3, 2.44 ERA) pitched 4.1 innings, allowing three earned runs and one walk on the afternoon. Morgan Lewis (0-4, 5.42 ERA) earned the tough luck loss in relief, pitching 1.2 innings and allowing no earned runs. Lewis struck out one and allowed no walks.
Game 2: UT Martin 7 – SIU Edwardsville 4
Seniors Katie Reiff and Becca Williams provided a dominating performance on the diamond as the duo went 3-for-3 and 2-for-4 respectively. Reiff and Williams combined to hit two home runs and drive in four runs in the 7-4 win over SIU Edwardsville.
Unlike the first game of the doubleheader, the Skyhawks gained the lead in the third inning and never looked back, tallying five runs in the top half of the inning. Reiff started the inning with a leadoff single to left. Tate soon doubled to right field, scoring Reiff and Wade to give the Skyhawks the 2-0 lead. Williams soon took the 2-1 pitch and depositing a line drive over the left field fence, scoring three on her first home run of the season.
The Skyhawk offense was not done, as Reiff equaled Williams with her first home run of the season in the top of the fourth.
The Cougars strung together a pair of hits in the bottom of the sixth to plate four runs, closing the deficit to 6-4. An RBI single by Rachel Coonrod and a two-run double by Toney gave SIUE life before Tate extinguished the threat with a fly out.
UTM added an insurance run in the top of the seventh as Wilson singled to left, scoring Williams for her second run of the game.
Tate (9-1, 2.56 ERA) found a way to a win as she pitched her seventh complete game on the season. The young sophomore stuck out four while allowing just three walks.
Skyhawk All-American Taylor added three hits on the day, along with one RBI and run scored on the afternoon.