OXFORD, Ala. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team jumped out to an early lead on Day Two of the Ohio Valley Conference Softball Championship before ultimately falling just short to No. 3 seed SIUE 2-1 on Thursday afternoon.
The Skyhawks (37-17) would score a run in the bottom of the second inning while holding the Cougars hitless for the opening three innings of play before a two-run fourth inning proved costly. Despite trailing by a run through the final innings, the Skyhawks would look for a rally in the bottom of the seventh inning but would strand the potential tying runs at first and second.
Hits would be at a minimum for both teams with four combined hits spread over the two squads. Jodie Duncan would tally a base knock in the bottom of the seventh inning while a RBI single by sophomore Alli Fulcher scored the Skyhawks lone run of the contest. Senior Carly Gonzales also pushed her streak to 30 games reaching base – breaking the school’s previous record of 29 set during the 2004 season.
Despite suffering her first loss to an OVC opponent of the season, senior righty Brooke Kennedy (21-6) posted yet another strong outing. Kennedy struck out two while issuing three walks and allowing two hits in seven innings of work. The game also marked the ninth game this season in which Kennedy allowed one earned run or less.
UT Martin would manufacture the game’s first run in the bottom of the second inning. Rachel Williams would draw a five-pitch walk before swiping second to move into scoring position. From there the runner would come home to score on a RBI single ripped down the left field line to take an early one-run advantage.
SIUE (40-11) would respond in the top of the fourth inning after being held hitless through the first three innings of play. A leadoff walk by Zoe Schafer would start the inning before pinch runner Jane Smith stole second. The Cougars would put runners on first and third following a bloop single to left field by Allison Smiley. With runners on the corners, the Cougars would score their first run with a sacrifice bunt RBI by Reagan Curtis. The squad would add another run on the following at bat off a RBI single to right field by Sarah Lopesilvero to give SIUE a 2-1 advantage.
Neither team would place a single runner on base over the final three innings of play until UT Martin looked for a late rally in the bottom of the seventh. Duncan would tally her lone hit of the day, dumping a single right down the right field line. The Skyhawks would then add another runner on the bags as Williams reached on an error. With two runners on and just one out, SIUE’s Haley Chambers would shut the door with back-to-back outs to end the inning and clinch a one-run victory.
UT Martin now moves into the consolation bracket and will take on the winner of No. 5 seed Murray State and No. 8 seed Belmont on Friday, May 12. First pitch from Choccolocco Park is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.