TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Several new Golden Eagles made their debuts donning the purple and gold on Friday as the Tennessee Tech softball team opened its 2012 campaign at the Seminole Classic in Tallahassee, Fla. Tech scored in the first inning of both games, but both Ole Miss and Stephen F. Austin came back to top the Golden Eagles 6-3 and 3-2 respectively.
The first game of the season pitted the Golden Eagles against Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi. Tech struck first as Garrett drew a four-pitch walk to open the game. After stealing second and advancing on a fielder's choice, the sophomore scored on a wild pitch by Mississippi pitcher Kendall Bruning.
Tech senior Holly Thomas refused to allow a hit until Ole Miss exploded on offense in the third inning. A pair of hits, combined with a Tech error and a wild pitch, allowed the Rebels to score four runs to give them a 3-run lead that held through the sixth.
Senior Whitney Cummings entered the game in the sixth in relief of Thomas, but was unable to stop Ole Miss as the Rebels (1-1) tacked on two more to extend the lead to 6-1.
The Golden Eagles mounted a comeback in the seventh, as a hit batter, a walk and a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position with one out. Everett then singled through the right side to score Brittney Spalding from third and advance Kendall Hooper to third. Garrett then hit a sacrifice fly to right that allowed Hooper to cross the plate and finalize the scoring at 6-3.
Thomas suffered the loss, allowing three earned runs on four hits and six walks. She struck out four, hurling 124 pitches.
In the second game of the twin bill, the Golden Eagles faced the Ladyjacks of Stephen F. Austin. Once again, Tech jumped on top early, posting a pair of runs in the first inning. As in the first game, Garrett opened the first by drawing a walk, then advanced to third after a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch.
Junior Chanelle Spalding battled throught a 10-pitch at-bat to draw a walk and put runners at the corners with one out. A sacrifice fly by Cummings scored Garrett and a pair of singles brought Spalding around to score and give Tech the 2-0 advantage early.
SFA answered in the second, scoring a lone run on a single up the middle with two outs.
The Ladyjacks (1-1) scored two more runs to take the lead in the fifth. A pair of walks and a double forced a pitching change for the Golden Eagles. Freshman Taylor Ketchum entered the game, inheriting a bases-loaded situation. A single by SFA's Cadie Weaver scored the runner from third and kept the bases loaded. After Ketchum threw out the Ladyjack runner at home on a fielder's choice, a ground ball to third allowed another run to cross the plate, making the score 3-2, a mark that would hold throughout the remainder of the game.
The Golden Eagles would threaten in the seventh, when Brittney Spalding drew a lead-off walk. Sophomore Kayla Floyd came in to pinch run for her, and advanced to third after stealing second and moving to third on an Everett single. Tech loaded the bases with a one-out walk. Hooper came in to pinch hit, but flied out to right and Floyd was thrown out trying to tie the game.
Tech (0-2) returns to action on Saturday, facing host Florida State in a game scheduled to begin at 11:15 CST. They will play another game later in the day against an opponent to be determined.
Tech freshman Erika Tuck took the loss in her first career start, allowing three earned runs in four innings in the circle. She struck out one and hit one batter while walking four. Ketchum was effective in her first appearance, striking out a pair and allowing just two hits in three innings of work.