OXFORD, Ala. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team saw its quest for an Ohio Valley Conference Softball Championships fall just short on the final day in the consolation championship game against rival SIUE 7-1 at Choccolocco Park.
The Skyhawks saw their record move to 39-18 on the season after dropping the first of three potential games on Saturday en route to a tournament championship. Despite the team’s elimination from the tournament, the pair of Brooke Kennedy and Jodie Duncan earned a spot on the All-Tournament team for standout performances over the week.
With the loss, the Skyhawks will have to await the selections of the NCAA Tournament and the inaugural Postseason National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC) on Sunday evening to see if the program will advance to its third postseason appearance in school history.
UT Martin tallied four hits on the day with Carly Gonzales, Lauren Myers, Alli Fulcher and Savannah Dodson each notching base knocks. Myers would tally the team’s lone RBI – an opposite field single in the sixth inning.
Three different pitchers saw action for the Skyhawks. Kennedy (23-7) earned her fifth start of the tournament, totaling 528 pitches thrown over the course of four days. Fatigue would catch up with the starter however, allowing seven hits and five earned runs in 3.2 innings of work. Freshman Samantha Scott would appear in relief, allowing one run in three innings of work while Seeley Layne pitched 0.1 inning.
“I thought the kids fought all tournament long, we just came up a little short today,” said UT Martin head coach Donley Canary. “These seniors scrapped and clawed all season and all tournament long. They were flying into walls despite trailing and pitched their hearts out. I can ask nothing more from them. I know we are a good team and I hope we are rewarded with a postseason opportunity because this team deserves it.”
SIUE would pick up its 41st win of the season after jumping out to an early lead in the second inning and never looking back. Allison Smiley would lead off the inning with an infield single before an errant throw on a stolen base attempt moved the runner to third. The run would later come home to score on a single along the left field line in the outfield by Sarah Lopesilvero to break the scoreless tie.
The fourth inning would prove to be a huge inning for the Cougars as the frame started with back-to-back base hits to put runners on second and third. Whitney Lanphier would then smoke a RBI double to center field to score a pair of runs. The Cougars would put an exclamation point on the inning with a three-run home run by Alyssa Heren to take a 6-0 advantage.
UT Martin would ultimately crack into the score column in the bottom of the sixth inning. After a pair of outs to lead the inning the Skyhawks would tally three consecutive singles by Dodson and Gonzales before an opposite field single into left field by Myers made it a 6-1 contest.
SIUE would put the finishing touches on the game in the top of the seventh with another RBI single by Lopesilvero to put the score at its final mark of 7-1.
The NCAA Tournament selection show will be aired at 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 14 on ESPN2. The field for the Postseason NISC will be revealed later that night.