NASHVILLE, Tenn. –The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team continued their hot hitting pace, registering 19 runs in two games to sweep Ohio Valley Conference East division rival Belmont by scores of 8-2 and 11-5 in the twinbill.
Game One: UT Martin 8, Belmont 2
In a game which saw over a two hour weather delay, the Skyhawks jumped on the Bruins early and often on their way to a series opening win over host Belmont.
UT Martin got on the board first in game one of the series as Mikala Torrence led off the game with a single into left field which was followed by a single by Kayla Wade into right. Senior Leah Taylor then stepped to plate just one day after suffering a finger injury, depositing a home run over the center field wall plating Torrence and Wade. Two batters later, sophomore Lauren Smith would not be outdone as the young power hitter blasted her sixth home run of the season into deep center, giving the Skyhawks the early 4-0 advantage.
Belmont responded in the bottom of the fourth when Kim Johnson tallied a two RBI double, plating Heather Turner and Ashley Hammer for the Bruins.
The Skyhawks added three insurance runs in the top of the fifth as senior Becca Williams made Taylor Moon pay for two earlier walks, scoring Taylor and Smith for the second time in the ballgame.
Taylor, a Skyhawk All-American, tallied her fourth RBI of the game in the top of the sixth as the senior singled to right scoring Wade to end the scoring output for either team.
Sophomore Casey Vincent (8-4, 2.08 ERA) posted yet another solid effort in the circle as the lefty posted her 10th complete game of the season while allowing just one earned run in seven innings of work. Vincent showed pin-point control as she tallied three strikeouts while issuing no walks on the afternoon.
Game Two: UT Martin 11, Belmont 5
In game two of the doubleheader UT Martin and Belmont exchanged leads four times in the contest before the Skyhawks tallied the knockout blow in the top of the sixth inning as UTM exploded for seven runs in the inning.
The Skyhawks got the scoring started in the top of the second inning as Jessie Britt motored for an RBI triple following a single by Smith.
Belmont took possession of the lead in the bottom of the fourth as Amanda Criscione reached on a single to left before Hammer nailed a home run over the right field fence, giving the Bruins their first lead of the series. BU added a well-placed single to score the baserunner from second to take the 3-1 advantage.
The Skyhawks saw the Bruins three runs and raised them four as UTM pushed seven runs across the plate in the top of the sixth inning. BU began the inning by issuing two walks to Wade and Taylor. Sophomore Kenzi Tate responded by driving an RBI single into right field which scored the speedy tandem of Wade and Taylor from third and second, respectively. Followed by a single and sacrifice fly by Williams, pinch runner Rachel Scrum scored to regain the 4-3 lead with two outs.
UTM was not done in the inning as Britt singled to center before classmate Deven Wilson doubled to bring in Britt. Rising sophomore Sam McClure was hit by a pitch and Torrence walked, setting up a bases loaded situation for Wade. Wade capitalized on the situation with an RBI single into left field as McClure and Torrence crossed home, bring the score to 8-3.
The Bruins threatened in the bottom of the inning as Tate plunked the lead-off hitter before consecutive singles to the left side and an RBI double trimmed the Skyhawk lead to 8-5. Vincent soon came in to relieve Tate with two out and runners on second and third. Vincent quickly extinguished the threat as the lefty force the BU hitter to ground out to end the inning.
The Skyhawks removed any doubt in the final outcome in the top of the seventh as Williams scored Tate on an RBI single to the left side. Jessie Britt picked up the RBI on a fielder’s choice to score Smith before Williams posted the final run of the game off a sacrifice fly from Wilson.
Tate (11-1, 2.66 ERA) picked up her career-best 11th win of the season in 5.2 innings of work. Tate struck out six, allowed three walks and surrendered five earned runs. Vincent earned her first save on the year in 1.1 perfect innings of relief, striking out one.
Head Coach Donley Canary quotes:
“I’m very proud of the way our girls competed today. To be able to play the way they did and get production from everyone in the lineup with the type of weather conditions that we were faced with, I am just extremely proud of this team,” said UT Martin head coach Donley Canary. “To see players like Leah Taylor who suffered a serious injury yesterday come out and have four RBIs in the first game and plant Sam McClure into a new role at shortstop and see the range and defensive ability to make the tough plays is very rewarding. You saw our team respond from a difficult day yesterday and really hit the ball up and down the lineup. When we play the way we did this afternoon, we can be a dangerous ball club.”