OXFORD, Ala. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team played its second game of the day with a similar result to remain alive in the Ohio Valley Conference Softball Championship on Friday evening after picking up a 5-3 victory over Eastern Kentucky in the consolation bracket.
The Skyhawks (39-17) equaled the team’s highest total win output since winning the league in 2012 with their 39 victory of the season. The win also marked the Skyhawks third win in the OVC Softball Championship.
UT Martin would bang out 10 hits on the evening – ranking as a tournament-high for the team in four games. Jodie Duncan led the way with her first three-hit day of the season while driving in three runs – including a two-run home run in the third. Meanwhile the duo of Lauren Myers and Savannah Dodson also tallied multi-hit nights. Duncan’s three RBIs would lead the Skyhawks while Myers and Alli Fulcher would both drive in one run each.
In the pitching circle the Skyhawks stayed with a reliable arm in senior Brooke Kennedy (23-6) who notched her 23rd win of the season. Despite pitching complete games in all four contests in the tournament, Kennedy still managed to allow just four base hits while striking out three.
“The seniors had about four goals going into the season with hitting .300 as a team, winning 30 games, finishing in the top four in the conference and to win the tournament to go to the NCAAs,” said UT Martin head coach Donley Canary. “We can now say that we have done three of those accomplished. These girls have really gutted it out. Brooke pitched back-to-back, through a rain delay. We’re also hitting the ball with Jodie on fire. They did a great job today.”
UT Martin would score its first run in the top of the first inning. Gonzales would stretch her school record streak to 32 consecutive games reaching base following a catcher’s interference call before moving into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Myers. Following another out, Duncan would tally her first of three RBIs with a two-out double to left center to score Gonzales.
The Skyhawks would add to their lead in the top of the third with familiar names once again. Gonzales this time would lead off the inning with a single through the left side before once again moving over to second on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs and Duncan at bat once again, the lefty would smoke a two-run home run over the right field wall to tally her second home run of the day and ninth of the season – making it a 3-0 advantage.
Eastern Kentucky would finally get on the board in the third inning in a big way. Back-to-back singles by Mia Sanchez and Rachel Minogue would put a pair of runners on base with one out. With a prime scoring opportunity at hand, All-OVC honoree Johnkyria Alston would smash a three-run home run to right center to tie the game at three runs apiece.
UT Martin would look to quickly respond in the top of the fifth. An infield single by Myers would start the rally followed by another single through the left side by Duncan to put runners on first and second. After battling off a couple touch pitches, Fulcher would turn on a 1-2 pitch and drive in the go-ahead run with a single to left field.
Looking for a little insurance, the Skyhawks would add another run in the top of the sixth. Senior Renate Meckl would lay down a bunt single followed by a single through the left side by Dodson to put runners on first and second with one out. A fielder’s choice would almost stall the scoring opportunity but Myers would pull a single through the right side to bring home Dodson on the play and give the Skyhawks its final score of 5-3.
UT Martin will return to action on the final day of the OVC Softball Championship on Saturday, May 13. The Skyhawks will look to win the consolation bracket with a rematch against SIUE at 10 a.m. The winner of the contest will play top-seeded Jacksonville State for the OVC Championship title at 12:30 p.m.