Game 1: Boxscore PDF
Game 2: Boxscore PDF
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team got off to a bumpy start in the Highlander Classic, dropping a doubleheader to tournament host UC Riverside on Thursday afternoon. The Skyhawks fell in the opener 6-4 before dropping the second contest 8-4.
The Skyhawks (15-5) are riding a three-game losing streak – their longest of the season – after dropping a pair of contests on the opening day of their final road tournament of the season. On the offensive side of the scoresheet, the Skyhawks would hold their own by scoring four runs in both contest while tallying 18 hits on the day.
Playing in front of family and friends, Anaheim, Calif. native Carly Gonzales made a big splash. Gonzales paced the team with five hits on the day in seven at bats while tallying a double and one RBI. Junior Savannah Dodson also stayed hot with the bat, picking up four hits while senior Renate Meckl tallied three hits – including a solo home run. Meanwhile it was Rachel Williams and Gracyn McBride who paced the squad with two RBIs each.
Despite the team’s offensive balance, the Skyhawks struggled in the pitching circle. Sophomore Sara Hooten (2-2, 3.71 ERA) and Samantha Scott (3-1, 2.45 ERA) both suffered losses on the afternoon. Hooten started in Game 1, striking out five while allowing 10 hits and six earned runs in four innings of work. Scott started in Game 2 before struggling, allowing four earned runs and eight hits over 2.2 innings of work. Freshman Seeley Layne would prove as the bright spot, allowing just four hits in 5.1 scoreless innings of relief on the day.
Game 1: UC Riverside 6, UT Martin 4
UC Riverside would use its home field to its advantage early in the bottom of the second inning. The Highlanders would score four runs in the second to take control of the game early. The squad received RBI knocks from Brittney Garcia, Madeline Richard and Haley Harris in the inning.
UT Martin would later break into the scoring column in the top of the fourth inning. After a lengthy at-bat resulted in a strikeout, Meckl launched a solo home run to trim the margin to 4-1 in the fourth.
After the Skyhawks trimmed the margin down to three, UC Riverside added to its margin in the bottom half of the inning. The Highlanders would plate two in the inning off a RBI single by Hannah Rodriguez before bringing the second run home off a sacrifice fly by Jenna Curtan.
Facing a 6-1 deficit, UT Martin would look to get back in the game in the top of the fifth inning. Dodson got the scoring inning started by reaching base via a single before advancing all the way to third on a fielding error. Gonzales would bring home her fellow speedster with a single of her own through the left side before moving into scoring position by swiping second. The following at-bat featured yet another single into left field, this time scoring two off the bat of Williams to trim the deficit to 6-4.
The Skyhawks looked push one final rally in the top of the seventh inning still trailing by two. The squad would draw a pair of walks to move into scoring position, but the final hit would never come as the Skyhawks fell 6-4.
Game 2: UC Riverside 8, UT Martin 4
UT Martin would look to get off on the right foot in the second game of the afternoon by scoring in the first inning. Gonzales would start the game with a leadoff single before eventually watching the bases become loaded later in the inning. With a prime scoring chance at hand, Jodie Duncan would draw a six-pitch walk to bring the first run into score.
UC Riverside would quickly bounce back in the bottom half of the inning with three runs to take over the lead. The Highlanders would tie the game off a RBI single by Rodriguez, scoring two on the play before another run came home off a stolen base – taking a 3-1 advantage.
The Skyhawks returned the favor by cutting into the margin in the second. Dodson would reach base on a bunt single before advancing into scoring position on a wild pitch. Later in the inning, Lauren Myers would reach base via a fielder’s choice moving Dodson to third where the duo pulled off a successful double-steal.
UT Martin responded by retaking the lead in the top of the third inning. Both Meckl and Alli Fulcher would reach base to start the inning before moving into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Duncan. The Skyhawks would ultimately cash in on a two-out opportunity later in the inning as McBride doubled to right center to score both Meckl and Fulcher on the play to take a 4-3 advantage.
Much like the team’s first deficit, UC Riverside would not trail for long after responding in the bottom of the third. The Highlanders would score five runs in the third to take an 8-4 lead – marking the game’s final margin.
The Skyhawks would look to cut into the deficit in the final four innings by tallying at least a hit in each frame, but would not get the runs on the board – dropping its first pair of games in the same day this season.
UT Martin will attempt to get back to its winning ways with a matchup against Big Ten foe Maryland on Friday, March 10. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. CST.