OXFORD, Ala. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team posted a dominating victory over Tennessee Tech on the opening day of the Ohio Valley Conference Softball Championships on Wednesday afternoon. Behind a stellar shutout pitching performance from newly named All-OVC honoree Brooke Kennedy, the Skyhawks would post a 1-0 victory to remain in the winner’s bracket of the double elimination tournament.
The Skyhawks pushed its record to 37-16, marking the highest single season win total for the program in four seasons. The win would also mark the Skyhawks first win in the tournament field since advancing to the championship game in 2013.
UT Martin would look no further than its senior pitcher to carry the load in the opening game of the tournament. Kennedy would be electric on the bump, notching the program’s first shutout in the OVC Softball Championship since the 2011 season. The righty would allow just two hits on the afternoon while striking out eight in seven innings of work. The victory also marked Kennedy’s 21st of the season, ranking as the second-most wins by a Skyhawk in a single history.
Offensively the Skyhawks would tally four hits on the day for four different individuals. Senior lefty Carly Gonzales would extend her on-base streak to 29 games with a triple and a walk while swiping a pair of stolen bases to set a new single-season stolen base record by pushing her season total to 41. Junior Jodie Duncan would tally the game’s long run with a solo blast in the bottom of the second inning.
“Brooke was absolutely dominating today,” said UT Martin head coach Donley Canary. “There weren’t any hard balls and it made it easy for the fielders. Then you consider Jodie hitting a home run into the wind and Carly’s speed at the top of the order, we really got results from the players we look to. The first win is always the hardest because you don’t want to drop into that loser’s bracket. Now we turn our focus to SIUE. We will be ready for them and I know they will be ready for us.”
The Skyhawks nearly moved into the scoring column in the first inning after a leadoff walk by Gonzales to extend her on-base streak. The speedster would stay aggressive swiping second base to set the new single-season record before moving over to third with her second swipe of the inning. Despite reaching third, Gonzales would be stranded 60 feet from home.
After watching its scoring opportunity stall, UT Martin wasted little time getting on the board in the second. Fresh off earning All-OVC first team honors on Tuesday night, Duncan launched a solo home run down the right field line to take a 1-0 lead.
With one run on the board, that would be all the offense Kennedy needed. After allowing a walk in the first inning, Kennedy would shut the door on the Golden Eagle bats by retiring 13 consecutive batters before allowing her first hit in the top of the sixth inning. Despite allowing two hits on the day, Tennessee Tech would not advance a runner past second base before ending the game by grounding into a double play.
UT Martin will return to action against No. 3 seeded SIUE on Thursday, May 11. First pitch from Choccolocco Park is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.