MARTIN, Tenn. – A first inning grand slam by Jodie Duncan would be all the offense the University of Tennessee at Martin softball team needed en route to a 7-3 win over Ohio Valley Conference foe Eastern Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.
The Skyhawks (32-14, 9-4 OVC) scored seven runs in the first three innings of play – highlighted by Duncan’s grand slam in the bottom of the first inning. While Duncan’s big blast would pave the way for much of the team’s offensive success, sophomore Lauren Myers would pick up the team’s other RBI on the day after leading the Skyhawks with a pair of base knocks. As a whole, the Skyhawks would tally five base hits on the day as senior Carly Gonzales extended her streak of reaching base to 22 games with a double while Aeron Smith also notched a hit.
While the team benefited from scoring seven runs on the afternoon, the pitching of senior Brooke Kennedy (17-4, 2.73 ERA) was equally as impressive. Kennedy picked up her seventh consecutive OVC win to remain undefeated in league play while allowing just one earned run in seven innings of work.
Eastern Kentucky (19-24, 6-6 OVC) looked to take an early lead in the contest with a dangerous first inning. A pair of singles by Paige Murphy and Rachel Minogue put a pair on base. With just one out on the board, the Skyhawks would make the most of an unconventional double play, recording a flyout before nailing an advancing runner on the back end.
With a big defensive stand behind them, the Skyhawks would turn to their bats in the bottom of the first. A leadoff double by Gonzales would nearly sneak out of Bettye Giles Field as it bounced off the top of the wall in left center. A single through the left side by Myers followed by Gracyn McBride being hit by a pitch would load the bases. Following an innocent infield fly, Duncan would connect on a first-pitch ball and launch a line drive over the centerfield wall for the team’s second grand slam of the season, giving the Skyhawks a 4-0 advantage.
Small ball would lead to another run in the bottom of the second inning. A leadoff walk to Reid Ballard would result in pinch runner Alicia Hansen moving onto the basepaths. A well-placed grounder by Savannah Dodson would move her classmate into scoring position before the speedster came home later in the inning on a single up the middle by Myers to push the margin to five runs.
The Skyhawks capped off their scoring afternoon with a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the third inning. Duncan would keep an inning going after a pair of outs to start the inning. The Colonels would then suffer three errors in the inning – including a pair of fielding errors up the middle to plate a pair of runs.
Eastern Kentucky would finally get on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth inning. With one out in the books, Hannah Clark would turn on a 1-1 pitch and launch a solo home run over the left field wall. The Colonels would continue to chip away in the seventh inning. Still trailing by six, the Colonels would benefit from a pair of Skyhawk errors to bring a pair of runs home to score and leave the bases loaded with potential. With the bases still full of foes, the Skyhawks would shut the door with a grounder to the right side to signal the winning decision.
UT Martin will return to action tomorrow, Sunday, April 23 against Morehead State. Doubleheader action from Bettye Giles Field is scheduled for 1 p.m.