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Tech eliminates Murray State, Eastern Illinois with a pair of victories

Golden Eagles advance to play UT Martin on Saturday

MARTIN, Tenn. – A thunderstorm could not cool down the Tennessee Tech softball team on Friday as the Golden Eagles defeated fifth-seed Murray State, 6-3, before downing fourth-seed Eastern Illinois, 3-2, at the OVC Tournament in Martin, Tenn.

Tech jumped out to an early lead in game one and did not let up, even after a rain delay paused the game for an hour and 20 minutes in the third inning. In the second game, Tech needed extra innings and a home run by Brittney Spalding in the top of the ninth inning to get past Eastern Illinois and advance to the final day of competition in the tournament.

Tech, bidding for its sixth OVC Tournament championship under head coach Tory Acheson, has now won 10 of its last 13 games.

The Golden Eagles entered the tournament having played just one extra innings game this season but have already played two in this OVC Tournament, winning both of them.

The Golden Eagles (28-29) will play again on Saturday morning against host UT Martin in an elimination game. The winner of that contest will advance to the championship game against Jacksonville State. 

Tech 6, Murray State 3
With one out and the bases loaded in the top of the first inning, Callie Schmidt hit a single to the opposite field that scored Chanelle Spalding and Lacie Coquerille to put TTU ahead, 2-0. Kaleigh Gates came up next and singled to left field, scoring Whitney Cummings and putting the Golden Eagles up by three.

Schmidt came through again in the fifth inning as she beat out an infield single that allowed Spalding to score from third base and give TTU a 4-0 advantage.

After Tech starting pitcher Holly Thomas shut down the Racers for the first four innings, they broke through in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of runs to shrink their deficit to 4-2.

The Golden Eagles responded with two of their own in the top of the sixth inning. Melody Christian singled through the left side of the infield to put runners on first and third with two outs. The speedy third baseman then stole second base, forcing an errant throw by the Murray State catcher that allow Jordan Leff to trot home from third base for TTU's fifth run.

Spalding came to the plate next and doubled to deep left-center, allowing Christian to score and put the Golden Eagles in front, 6-2.

The four-run cushion was more than enough for Thomas as she struck out four batters over the final two innings while allowing just an unearned run to cross the plate for the final 6-3 tally.

Thomas earned her second win in as many days, while striking out nine batters for the second time this year. She pitched her team-high 12th complete game of the season and allowed just two earned runs while inducing eight groundouts.

Schmidt provided the offense for TTU, finishing 2-for-4 with three RBIs. She now has five RBIs in her last two games. Christian also finished with a pair of singles, a run scored and her team-high 15th stolen base of her freshman campaign.

Spalding went 1-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Gates was 1-for-4 with an RBI, and Leff went 1-for-3 with a run scored. 

Tech 3, Eastern Illinois 2
Tennessee Tech scored two runs in the top of the first, and Eastern Illinois countered with two in its half of the second inning to tie the game at 2-2. That would account for all the scoring until the ninth inning when Brittney Spalding crushed a home run that proved to be the game winner, helping Tech avenge its three regular season losses to the Panthers.

In the top of the first, Chanelle Spalding took a one-out walk, and two batters later, Cummings singled to put two runners on base. The Golden Eagles' RBI leader Callie Schmidt came to the plate next and delivered a two run double to put Tech in front, 2-0.

A two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning by EIU knotted the game at 2-2.

Maddie Schmissrauter started the game for Tech and pitched two innings before Thomas took over. Both Thomas and EIU starter Amber May shut down the opposing offenses for the next six innings.

Brittney Spalding led off the top of the ninth inning with a homer to left-center field that put the Golden Eagles ahead, 3-2, and Thomas sat down the Panthers in order in the bottom of the ninth to secure the victory for TTU.

Thomas (16-13) pitched seven scoreless innings in relief for Tech, earning her third win on the team's last four games. She struck out two and allowed just one extra-base hit.

The Golden Eagles will meet UT Martin at 11 a.m. on Saturday with a OVC Championship game bid on the line. Brandon Goodwin will have the call on Teamline and live stats will be available through JSUgamecocksports.com. In addition, OVCsports.tv will have streaming video of the game available. Visit TTUsports.com for links to all of the action.

2010 Ohio Valley Conference Softball Tournament Schedule

THURSDAY, MAY 13
Game 1 - #3 Morehead State vs. #6 Tennessee Tech – Tech 6, Morehead State 3
Game 2 - #4 Eastern Illinois vs. #5 Murray State – Eastern Illinois 5, Murray State 4
Game 3 - #2 Jacksonville State vs. #6 Tennessee Tech – Jacksonville State 10, Tech 4
Game 4 - #1 UT Martin vs. #4 Eastern Illinois – UT Martin 3, Eastern Illinois 2

FRIDAY, MAY 14
Game 5 – #5 Murray State vs. #6 Tennessee Tech – Tech 6, Murray State 3
Game 6 – #3 Morehead State vs. #4 Eastern Illinois – 1:30 p.m.
Game 7 – #1 UT Martin vs. #2 Jacksonville State – 4:00 p.m.
Game 8 – Eastern Illnois vs. #6 Tennessee Tech – Tech 3, Eastern Illinois 2

SATURDAY, MAY 15
Game 9 – #1 UT Martin vs. #8 Tennessee Tech – 11:00 a.m.
Game 10 – Game 7 winner vs. Game 9 winner – 1:30 p.m.