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Led by pitching, Panthers take two in softball Sunday

CHARLESTON, Ill. --Strong pitching by the Eastern Illinois softball team led the Panthers to a pair of wins over Tennessee Tech on Sunday in Charleston.

After being rained out on Saturday, the Panthers won both of the delayed games on Sunday by scores of 7-2 and 3-1.

The first game proved to be all about EIU pitcher Stephanie Maday, who held the Golden Eagles to two late-game runs.

EIU lit up the scoreboard in the second, scoring five runs on just one hit and a Tech error. The Panthers loaded the bags with three walks then the next four batters made contact to keep the rally going.

After a Tech pitching change put Claudia Harke in the circle to start the fourth, the Panthers tacked on a run in both the third and fourth innings with a combined three hits and three more Golden Eagle errors.

Tech's offense finally caught fire in the seventh as Angi Sakamoto doubled to score Cassie Garrett all the way from first. Back-to-back singles to the pitcher by Melody Christian and Brooke Basten allowed Sakamoto to cross the plate, ending the scoring at 7-2.

Maday took the complete-game win, allowing six hits and two walks while striking out five. Holly Thomas suffered the loss for Tech, giving up four earned runs on just two hits in three innings of work. Claudia Harke allowed just one earned run in her four innings in relief.

Game two proved to be more of a defensive battle and began in Tech's favor. The Golden Eagles took an early lead, as Hannah Eldridge hit an RBI single to score Kendall Hooper in the second.

EIU quickly took the lead, however, loading the bases in the third and scoring a pair of runs on just two hits. They stranded three runners on the bases though, as Tech pitcher Taylor Ketchum forced a grounder to third to end the threat.

The Panthers put two runners in scoring position once more in the fourth, but Ketchum struck out the final two to get out of the inning without allowing any damage. EIU managed to tack on an insurance run in the fifth, however, with a walk, sacrifice bunt and an RBI double to make it 3-1.

Once more, the Golden Eagles looked for late-inning offense which started with two outs in the sixth. Hooper then doubled and Brittney Spalding walked to scare EIU into making a pitching change. Maday came in to relieve Hanna Mennenga, and struck out Chanelle Spalding to end the inning.

Maday struck out two more in the seventh to earn the save. Mennenga earned the victory, allowing just two hits in 5.2 innings in the circle. Ketchum took the loss, striking out four and giving up six hits in five innings of work.

On the day, Tech was led by Hooper, who went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Eldridge went 2-for-3 with an RBI while Sakamoto and Basten also drove in runs.

With the losses, the Golden Eagles drop to sixth in the OVC standings with five conference games to play. Tech's next series comes on April 21 and 22 with three crucial games against seventh-place SIU-Edwardsville.