Akron: Boxscore PDF
Alabama State: Boxscore PDF
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team used its powerful bats to outscore its opponents 27-8 on the opening day of the Alabama State Black and Gold Classic picking up a pair of victories. The Skyhawks defeated Akron 13-2 in five innings before taking down tournament host Alabama State 14-6 in six innings.
The Skyhawks (6-0) remained unbeaten on the season after posting a staggering .492 team batting average, two home runs and 24 RBIs in just 11 innings on the day. The pair of victories also marked the Skyhawks second and third consecutive games in which the “mercy rule” has gone into effect, marking the first such streak in school history.
Senior Renate Meckl led the Skyhawks with six hits while the trio of Jessie Douglas, Savannah Dodson and Carly Gonzales each tallied four hits each. Junior Rachel Williams led the way with five RBIs on the day while Douglas and Jodie Duncan each drove in four. The Skyhawks also stole nine bases on the afternoon, led by three from Dodson. Meckl and Gonzales each tallied a pair while Williams and Alicia Hansen recorded one each.
Game One: UT Martin 13, Akron 2 (Fifth inning)
UT Martin wasted little time jumping out to a good advantage in the contest. Carly Gonzales would lead off the inning with a double to right center before advancing all the way to third on a passed ball. The Skyhawks would almost strand the speedster at the third before a two-out single up the middle by Meckl would give the squad an early lead. With one runner still on base, Alli Fulcher would belt a two-run home run over the left field wall to give the Skyhawks a 3-0 run advantage in the top of the first.
The Skyhawks would add another run in the top of the second inning behind an opposite field double to right by Douglas. With yet another runner in scoring position, Dodson would lace a single up the middle to give the squad a four-run advantage.
The squad continued to put some space between themselves and Akron in the top of the third innings. A leadoff single by Meckl would get the inning off to a hot start before quickly moving into scoring position by swiping second base. After a successful steal, Meckl would just trot home later in the inning as Jodie Duncan brought the pair around to score on a two-run homer to right field.
Akron would finally break into the scoring column in the bottom of the third. After being held to just one hit through the early innings, the Zips would get their scoring inning started with a single up the middle by Ashley Sims. With a runner on base, Taylor Kirian would turn on a first-pitch ball and launch a two-run homer to left field to cut the margin to 6-2 after three innings of play.
UT Martin would strike back by scoring in its fourth consecutive inning with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. Dodson would work a pitcher’s count into a single before moving all the way to third by swiping a pair of stolen bases. Gonzales would also work the count to draw a full-count walk before swiping second to put a pair of runners in scoring position with no outs. With a prime scoring situation at hand, Williams would pull a two-run double into left center to give the Skyhawks an 8-2 advantage.
The Skyhawks would put the game away in the fifth inning with five more runs. Hansen would enter the game as a pinch runner following an error by the Zips before quickly making her presence known by swiping second base. A four-pitch walk by Kaitlyn Martin would put a pair of runners on before another RBI single Douglas plated a run. The bases would later become loaded before Williams notched a two-run single and another Akron error led to a pair of runs to balloon the lead out to 13-2, cutting the contest short after five innings.
Brooke Kennedy (3-0, 3.32 ERA) picked up her third win of the season after allowing just two runs in five innings of work against Akron. Kennedy notched her third complete game while striking out three and issuing no walks.
Game 2: UT Martin 14, Alabama State 6 (Six innings)
Alabama State charged out the gates with a strong inning as the team looked to defend its home field in the second game of the afternoon. A leadoff single would result in the runner traveling all the way to third base following an error before coming home to score on a RBI single up the middle by Perry Hindi to take an early lead. Looking to continue the big first inning, a home run by Kendall Core gave the home squad a quick three-run lead.
With the Skyhawks facing few deficits throughout the young season, the squad charged back with a huge second inning which featured 11 runs. UT Martin would get the scoring started with a RBI single to center by Douglas to score both Gabby Zizzi and Aeron Smith on the play. Three consecutive base hits by the trio of Hansen, Gonzales and Dodson would also score three runs to eliminate the deficit. The Skyhawks would bat around before seeing Duncan lace a single up the middle to score a pair followed by back-to-back singles by Smith and Dodson to score runs. The inning would be capped off by a RBI single by Williams to score the inning’s 11th and final run.
The Lady Hornets looked to cut into the margin in both the third and fourth innings, scoring three runs between the two. Consecutive RBI triples by Core and Hailey Walker would plate a pair of runs in the third. An infield single in the fourth by Laura Aguilar scored the team’s final run.
The Skyhawks would ultimately put the game away with three runs down the stretch to force its third straight mercy rule. Douglas’s sacrifice bunt in the fifth scored Fulcher to make it 12-6. The squad would cap the day off with a pair of RBI singles by Meckl and Fulcher in the sixth to pick up a 14-6 victory.
Senior Alyssa Vanlandingham (1-0, 4.04 ERA) earned the start but lasted just 2.2 innings. Vanlandingham allowed five runs while striking out two and walking a pair. Freshman Samantha Scott (1-0, 1.62 ERA) picked up her first collegiate victory after allowing just one run over 3.1 innings of relief.
UT Martin will return to action with another pair of games on Saturday, Feb. 18 to cap off the team’s stay at the Alabama State Tournament. The Skyhawks will take on Fort Wayne at 11 a.m. before squaring off against Akron at 1:30 p.m.