MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team outhit the visitors from Middle Tennessee on Tuesday afternoon, but could not overcome an early hole following a trio of defensive miscues before falling to the Blue Raiders 2-0 at Bettye Giles Field.
The Skyhawks (23-23-1) tallied seven hits on the day, led the freshmen duo of Carly Gonzales and Gabby Glenn who both tallied two hits each to lead the team. Joining the pair in the hit column was Taylor Manning, Stephanie Nidiffer and Juli Layne.
Brooke Kennedy (4-3) got the start for the Skyhawks, picking up a hard-fought loss after striking out five and allowing no earned runs in four innings of work. Elizabeth Wiegand appeared in relief, tossing three innings of shutout ball, striking out two and allowing just one hit.
Middle Tennessee (8-39) was led by Cheyenne Willis with a pair of base hits while Austyn Whaley and Laura Dukes each got in the hit column. Shelby Stinnett tossed 5.1 innings of shutout ball with three strikeouts and just one walk in the victory. Caitlin McClure earned the save with 1.2 innings of work, striking out one and allowing just one hit.
Kennedy faced her first tough inning in the second, when the Blue Raiders strung together a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases with just one out. The freshman would come through clutch however, striking out the final two batters of the inning to retire the threat.
The Skyhawks would not be so lucky in the top of the third inning, allowing the games’ lone runs to score. LaRi Mitchell led off the inning with a walk before swiping second base, moving into scoring position with no outs. Kennedy would strike out the next batter before a trio of errors let the Blue Raiders on the board. With three consecutive errors, Middle Tennessee plated both Mitchell and Kayla Toney to take the 2-0 advantage. With the errors aside, Kennedy got the visitors to both foul and groundout to end the inning.
UT Martin looked to get on the board in the bottom of the sixth after Nidiffer was hit by a pitch. Nidiffer was then moved from first to third on a double to right center of the bat of Glenn, putting the Skyhawks on second and third with one out.
The Blue Raiders would waste little time trying to squash the threat, bringing in Caitlin McClure in relief of starter Shelby Stinnett. The move would prove to be enough for the visitors, notching a double play on a groundout before relaying the throw from first to home to catch Nidiffer at the plate for the final out of the inning.
The Skyhawks would string together another rally in the bottom of the seventh inning as the bases would be loaded following a sequence which would include a single by Layne, an error and a walk. Fate would not be on the side of the home team as Deven Wilson’s long fly ball was caught by the right fielder to end the game at 2-0.
UT Martin will look to rebound in its final non-conference contest of the year when the Skyhawks travel to Southern Illinois on Thursday, April 24. Action from Charlotte West Stadium is scheduled for 4 p.m.