April 18, 2014

Game 1: Boxscore             PDF          Game 2: Boxscore            PDF

MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team received a big lift from senior Stephanie Nidiffer as she tallied two home runs to salvage an Ohio Valley Conference series split against visiting Tennessee Tech on Friday afternoon. The Skyhawks fell to the Golden Eagles in Game 1, 6-2, before picking up a 3-1 victory in the second game of the doubleheader.

The Skyhawks 23-20-1 (10-7 OVC) were led by Nidiffer who went 3-for-4 on the day with two home runs and three RBIs. Deven Wilson and Taylor Manning each tallied multi-hit performances, tallying two singles each.

Turning to pitching, the Skyhawks looked to junior Casey Vincent to start Game 2, tossing a complete game with two strikeouts and one earned run. Vincent held opponents to a .182 batting average, holding the Golden Eagles to just four hits in the game. Freshman Elizabeth Wiegand suffered a tough defeat, allowing five earned runs in five innings of work. Brooke Kennedy appeared in relief, pitching two scoreless innings along with a pair of strikeouts.

“As the season is getting shorter and shorter, it is important to pick up as many wins as you can,” said UT Martin coach Donley Canary. “Our girls came through in the second game, played solid defense and was able to pick up a split. We just have to look to build some momentum moving forward as we prepare for the final stretch run.”

Game 1: Tennessee Tech 6, UT Martin 2

Tennessee Tech (16-32, 8-11 OVC) looked impressive early as pitcher Danielle Liberatore accomplished a feat not often seen, striking out four Skyhawk hitters in the opening frame. Carly Gonzales struckout swinging but quickly scampered to first on a wild pitch, giving the Skyhawks their first base runner. Liberatore would make quick work of the ensuing three batters, punching out three consecutive hitters swinging.

The Skyhawks would briefly solve the Tech pitcher in the second inning, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead. Nidiffer led off the second inning with a solo home run to left field, landing in the net surrounding the scoreboard to give the Skyhawks their first run of the day. Wilson would keep the inning going by drawing a full count walk before being pulled for pinch runner Bella Zizzi. Gabby Glenn would respond by singling to left field, moving the base runners to first and second with one out. On the first pitch of the next at bat, Zizzi and Glenn would successfully convert a double steal before Zizzi came around to score on a throwing error by the catcher on the play.

The Golden Eagles would look to get on the board in the top of the third inning. Hannah Eldridge would lead off the inning with a single through the left side. Gabby Perez would follow by reaching base on a fielder’s choice before swiping second base. Angi Sakamoto would punctuate the inning with a RBI single to the left side, scoring Perez from third.

The visitors would not be done, taking the lead in the top of the fourth inning. Kendall Hooper singled to right center as Cortney Fry drew a walk, placing runners on first and second with two outs. Eldridge would pick up her second hit of the game by smashing a home run down the left field line, her first of the season, for three RBIs and a 4-2 advantage.

The Golden Eagles would strike again in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach. Wiegand would give up a pair of leadoff hits before being pulled for Kennedy with no outs. Eldridge would tally her third hit and RBI of the game with a single to right field, scoring Hooper from third. TTU would add its sixth and final run on a wild pitch.

Game 2: UT Martin 3, Tennessee Tech 1

The Skyhawks would strike first in the opening frame, jumping out an early 1-0 lead. Kayla Wade would lace a one-out triple to right center, the 16th of her career, putting the Skyhawks in prime scoring position. Wade’s time on the base paths would be short as Manning singled up the middle to score the speedster from third.

The Golden Eagles would knot the game at 1-1 in the sixth inning. Alyssa Richards led off the inning with a walk before pinch runner Chris Gibbs was caught stealing. Hooper would tally a four-pitch walk before coming around to score on a deep double by Fry which hit off the center field wall to tie the game.

UT Martin would look to Manning for a bunt single before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by Vincent, moving into scoring position. Nidiffer would flex her muscles once again following the sacrifice by lifting a laser shot, on the ninth pitch of the at bat, over the right center wall for the eventual game-winning two run home run. The home run was Nidiffer’s third of the season and second of the day.

The Skyhawks will look to defend Bettye Giles Field when they play host to OVC leader Jacksonville State on Saturday, April 19. First pitch of the doubleheader is scheduled for 1 p.m.