OXFORD, Ala. – After struggling to score in the team’s first two contests of the Ohio Valley Conference Softball Championship, the University of Tennessee at Martin capitalized by hitting a pair of home runs to survive and advance past Belmont 4-0 on Friday afternoon.
The Skyhawks (38-17) would outlast Mother Nature in a game which would be delayed twice due to severe weather concerns and total over two hours and eight minutes. Despite the rainy conditions and pair of delays, the Skyhawks would cruise through the contest with the help of four different scoring innings and yet another strong pitching performance by Brooke Kennedy.
After tossing a shutout in the tournament opener against Tennessee Tech and allowing just one earned run against SIUE, Kennedy once again proved why she deserved All-OVC honors. Kennedy notched her 22nd victory of the season while recording her fifth shutout. She would allow just three hits on the day while striking out 10 in the complete game victory.
Offensively, the Skyhawks were paced by senior Carly Gonzales who improved upon her school record streak of 31 games reaching base by tallying her 20th multi-hit performance of the season with a pair of base knocks and a RBI. Carrying the big bats was the trio of Jodie Duncan and Alli Fulcher who both launched solo home runs following lengthy delays.
UT Martin would waste little time getting into the scoring column in the contest. A leadoff double down the left field line by Gonzales would get the Skyhawks off on the right foot before a pair of sacrifice bunts by both Lauren Myers and Gracyn McBride would bring the speedster home to score the game’s first run.
The Skyhawks would add another run in the top of the third inning after an oddity. Following an infield single by Savannah Dodson, the second baseman would attempt to steal second before moving all the way to third as the return throw from the catcher caromed off the helmet of Gonzales in the batter’s box. Despite being struck in the helmet just two pitches earlier, Gonzales would hang in for the at bat before lacing a single up the middle to stretch the lead out to two runs.
Following the scoring inning for the Skyhawks, lightning concerns would postpone the game for 46 minutes. After an all clear was given to return to action, Duncan would show little signs of rust in the top of the fourth as she hammered a 2-1 pitch just left of dead center for a solo home run – her eighth of the season.
With the game under control in the final inning, Fulcher would officially put the game out of reach by knocking a solo home run to left center for her sixth of the season. With the game at a 4-0 score, the Skyhawks would cruise to the victory.
UT Martin will return to action in the consolation bracket against Eastern Kentucky on Friday evening. Action from Choccolocco Park is tentatively scheduled for 7:40 p.m.