MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team treated its program record 731 fans to a treat on Wednesday afternoon, battling No. 18 ranked Kentucky for much of the contest before a late scoring push by the visiting Wildcats ended the contest with a final score of 8-2.
The Skyhawks (32-15) closed out non-conference play with a record of 22-11 despite facing three nationally ranked opponent on the season. Despite facing a difficult opponent, the Skyhawks would play even with the Wildcats through five innings before six runs in the final two innings proved to put the game out of reach for the home squad.
UT Martin would tally six base hits on the day, led by the play of sophomore Lauren Myers who tallied her 10th multi-hit performance of the season with three hits on the day. Recently named TSWA Player of the Week Jodie Duncan continued her hot streak, tallying a pair of base hits while notching both of the team’s RBIs in the third inning. Meanwhile senior Carly Gonzales pushed her streak of reaching base to 23 games with a walk.
Two different Skyhawks saw time in the pitcher’s circle for the home squad with Brooke Kennedy (17-5) suffering defeat. Kennedy allowed six earned runs on nine hits in six innings of work. Sophomore Sara Hooten appeared in relief, pitching one inning.
Kentucky (32-13) pushed its winning streak to six games with the victory after knocking off Eastern Kentucky and UT Martin in consecutive days. Outside of the balanced effort throughout the lineup which led to eight runs, the play of Martin native Meagan Prince propelled the Wildcats to the victory. Prince pitched a complete game, striking out 14 while allowing two earned runs.
Behind the strong pitching performance, it would be the Wildcats who jumped into the scoring column first. A leadoff walk would prove costly as the runner was then moved into scoring position following a sacrifice bunt. A fielding error would put runners on first and third, where the team attempted a double steal. The Skyhawks would sniff out the stolen base attempt at second, but a run would score in the process to put Kentucky on top early.
Trailing by one in the bottom of the third, UT Martin would look to take its first lead of the contest. Gonzales would reach base after battling a full count for a walk before moving into scoring position on an infield single by Myers. The inning would continue as Rachel Williams drew a two-out walk to load the bases for fellow junior Duncan. Fresh off a grand slam in her last game, Duncan came through once again in the clutch, lacing a single up the middle to score both Gonzales and Myers, giving the Skyhawks a 2-1 lead.
Facing its first deficit of the contest, Kentucky quickly responded in the top of the fourth. The Wildcats would ultimately load the bases in the fourth following a pair of singles and a walk, setting up Erin Rethlake with a prime scoring opportunity. With two outs, Rethlake would tally a single just out of the reach of a diving Skyhawk to score one run before Duncan fired home to Aeron Smith who placed a tag on the potential go-ahead run and keep the game tied at 2-2.
The game would remain tied until the top of the sixth when Kentucky added two more runs to its scoring total. Another double steal attempt would result in the team’s first run of the inning crossing the plate. A deep home run off the bat of Rachael Metzger would result in another to give the Wildcats a 4-2 lead.
Kentucky would formally put the game out of reach in the bottom of the seventh, scoring four runs on four hits. An error would result in two runs scoring in the inning off the bat of Jenny Schaper while a pair of fielders choice plays plated the team’s other two runs to make the final score 8-2.
UT Martin will look to return to its winning ways with a pair of Ohio Valley Conference doubleheaders over the weekend. The Skyhawks will travel to Nashville take on Belmont on Saturday, April 29 before matching up against Tennessee State on Sunday, April 30.