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Former softball players Bayless, Lovelady to be honored Saturday

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Six All-OVC selections, five OVC All-Tournament nods, four OVC championship rings and three years together on the Tennessee Tech softball team. It all adds up to two former Golden Eagle players whose names will be added to the TTU Softball Wall of Honor this weekend.

Pitcher Lori Bayless and infielder Samantha Lovelady each had distinguished careers while donning the purple and gold under coach Tory Acheson, each helping her team advance to NCAA post-season play twice in her four-year career. On Saturday, Acheson and his team will honor the duo by adding their names to the wall just beyond center field. 

Bayless came to Tech in 2001 from Winchester, Ky. with a rifle of an arm. She shatterd the record books, winning 65 decisions in 606.2 innings pitched, and sat down 594 batters on strikeouts. Her ERA of 1.23 remains the lowest in Tech softball history. 

After taking the "ace" role from Adrienne Fortmann in 2002, Bayless went on to lead the Golden Eagles to an Ohio Valley Conference Championship in 2003. That year, she won 16 games in 156 innings with 12 complete games. She was also named the OVC Tournament MVP. Bayless increased her numbers in her senior campaign, picking up 21 wins and striking out 207 batters with 10 shutouts.

Lori was named OVC Pitcher of the Week 10 times in her career and was a three-time all-OVC first-team selection. Her performace in her final year earned her the title of OVC Pitcher of the Year. 

Lovelady began her Golden Eagle career in 2002 and immediately engraved her name into the Tech record books with five hits in a game against Morehead State. She continued to improve thoughout her freshman campaign and went on to lead Tech in the OVC Tournament with a .364 batting average. Lovelady scored 27 runs to lead Tech her senior year and was named All-OVC in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. 

Since graduation, Lovelady has been an assistant to coach Acheson at Tech. Samantha married Billy Bates, a former TTU football player, on June 4, 2011 and the couple is expecting their first child. 

As an assistant coach, Samantha helped lead the Golden Eagles to two more OVC Championships in 2006 and 2007.

Bayless and Lovelady will be enshrined on Tech softball's Wall of Honor between games of Saturday's doubleheader against SIU-Edwardsville. The doubleheader will also feature Softball Legends Day, with many of the team's alumni returning for the activities.

The first game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Admission is free.