Game One: Boxscore PDF
Game Two: Boxscore PDF
CHARLESTON, Ill. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team picked up its first win at Williams Field over Ohio Valley Conference rival Eastern Illinois nearly 10 years to the day since its last road victory to earn a critical series split. The Skyhawks dropped the opener 3-1 before rallying to notch a 3-1 win of their own in the finale.
The Skyhawks improved to 31-13 on the season while moving to 8-4 in the OVC standings with the split decision. Paired up against one of the toughest pitching duos in the conference, the Skyhawks scratched and clawed for 10 hits on the day while both team’s scored four runs on the day. A come-from-behind victory at Eastern Illinois notched UT Martin’s first road win against the stingy host since April 15, 2007 – a stretch of 15 games.
With neither team hitting for a high average on the day, the trio of Savannah Dodson, Jodie Duncan and Gracyn McBride would each tally a pair of base hits in the doubleheader. Dodson would go 2-for-4 on the day while pacing the squad with two RBIs. The duo of Duncan and McBride would also tally RBIs on the day to give the squad their four runs. Carly Gonzales also pushed her hitting streak to a season-long 12 games before watching that streak fall to the side with a hitless series finale.
The pitching staff would excel once again for the Skyhawks to earn the split. With the Panthers entering the contest with the supposed pitching advantage on paper, the Skyhawk duo of Brooke Kennedy (16-3, 2.62 ERA) and Sara Hooten (8-4, 2.48 ERA) would more than hold their own in the contest. Kennedy would push her unbeaten streak to 6-0 with a sub-two ERA in conference play, allowing just one earned run in seven innings of work. Hooten also posted a strong performance despite picking up the loss, allowing just two earned runs in six innings.
Game One: Eastern Illinois 3, UT Martin 1
The day would start with Gonzales reaching base with a single up the middle to push her hitting streak to 12 games before swiping second to move into scoring position. The speedster would advance all the way to third on a wild pitch but would be stranded with consecutive outs to end the inning.
With UT Martin held off the scoreboard in the first inning, Eastern Illinois would attempt to capitalize on its own opportunity in the bottom half. A pair of outs would look to stall the inning out the gates but a single by Haley Mitchell down the left field line would later result in a run as Amber Toenyes double to left to score the go-ahead run.
EIU would add another run in the bottom of the second inning. Back-to-back singles to lead off the inning would get the Panthers out on the right foot. With runners on second and third following a sacrifice bunt, Tori Johnson lofted a sacrifice fly to notch a RBI and push the lead out the two runs.
UT Martin would get on the board in the top of the third following a leadoff walk to Jessie Douglas and a bunt single by Dodson. Gonzales would lay down a sacrifice bunt to move the duo into scoring position before McBride would come through with a RBI single up the middle to cut the deficit in half.
The Panthers would ultimately put the game out reach in the bottom of the fifth with an insurance run. Johnson would tally tally a leadoff single to left field before moving to third with a pair of sacrifice bunts. An infield error would off the bat of Taylor Monahan would push the score out to its final position of 3-1.
Game Two: UT Martin, Eastern Illinois 1
The second game of the day would live up to its pitching duel as neither team tallied a run until the fourth inning. Eastern Illinois would make the first move onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth on a solo home run by Toenyes to take a one-run advantage.
With both teams waiting through a lengthy lighting delay, the Skyhawks would use that time to wake their bats up from a slumber. After being held hitless through the first four innings, the Skyhawks scored two runs in the fifth. After two quick outs to start the inning, Aeron Smith continued the inning after being hit by a two-strike pitch. The plunk would be followed by a walk to Reid Ballard and two ensuing pinch runners in Alicia Hansen and Alexa Combs. Hansen would swipe a base to move into scoring position before a single to left field off the bat of Dodson cleared the bases and gave the Skyhawks their first lead of the day at 2-1.
The lead would be enough for Kennedy who proceeded to shut the door down the stretch, holding Eastern Illinois scoreless over the final three innings. With a powerful pitching performance, the Skyhawks looked for a little more breathing room in the top of the sixth inning. A pair of leadoff singles by Lauren Myers and McBride would start the inning. A successful sacrifice bunt by Rachel Williams would move the two Skyhawk runners up a base setting up Duncan who launched a deep sacrifice fly to center to make the score 3-1.
UT Martin will return to action on Tuesday, April 18 when playing host to No. 22 ranked Ole Miss. Action from Bettye Giles Field is scheduled to get underway at 5 p.m.