Golden Eagles blank Murray State behind stellar effort from Thomas

COOKEVILLE, Tenn.  – Holly Thomas isn’t quite ready to let the sun set on the Tennessee Tech softball team in 2012. The senior pitcher slammed the door on visiting Murray State Saturday afternoon as the Golden Eagles salvaged a 4-0 win in the series finale.

The win kept Tech (15-21/9-9 OVC) in the thick of the chase to reach the OVC Tournament in early May. Thomas was outstanding in the circle to earn her 11th win of the year (11-10), allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out 10 MSU batters. It was her season-high for strikeouts and matched the team’s best effort in the circle this year.

Thomas [in photo] retired the final 11 batters she faced and 15 of the last 16 after the third inning; the lone MSU base runner after the third inning reached on an error.

The Racers (15-13 /10-7 OVC) had claimed a pair of 1-0 wins on Friday, but were stonewalled by Thomas, who didn’t allow a hit over the final five innings. Shelby Kosmecki (7-7) who got one of the Friday wins, took the loss Saturday. She worked 2.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits.

Thomas faced a dilemma right away in the top of the first following a leadoff walk and a single, but got the next two batters on strikes and ended the threat with a harmless ground ball.

The Racers also threatened in the second with a leadoff double by Leslie Bridges and a two-out single from Sarah Anderson that put runners on the corners. Another strikeout quelled that rally and kept things scoreless.

The Golden Eagles rewarded Thomas with a couple of runs in the bottom of the third, Tech’s first runs of the series. Melody Christian opened the frame with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kayla Floyd. Cassie Garrett singled to put runners on the corners and Brooke Basten walked to load the sacks.

MSU made a pitching change as Chelsey Sullivan took over for Kosmecki. Kendall Hooper hit a long foul fly ball to right field that served as a sacrifice when Christian tagged up and raced home for a 1-0 lead. A bouncing single up the middle by Chanelle Spalding made it 2-0 as Garrett trotted home.

As Thomas got stronger, the Golden Eagles tacked on single runs in the fourth and fifth.

A single by Samantha Everett, a passed ball and a two-out single by Floyd put two aboard on the corners, and a double steal worked when the throw to second was mishandled and pinch-runner Tyler Templet crossed the plate for a 3-0 lead.

Hooper singled in the fifth and eventually scored on an RBI single by Brittany Spalding for a 4-0 Tech lead.

Brittany Spalding had two of Tech’s nine its as eight of the nine batters in the Golden Eagle lineup delivered hits.

The Golden Eagles face a pair of mid-week single games this week, playing at Chattanooga Tuesday at 5 p.m. in a non-conference matchup before hosting Eastern Kentucky Thursday at 3 p.m. in an OVC battle. Admission is free to all of Tech’s regular season home games.

Tech visits Eastern Illinois for a three-game OVC set on the weekend.

Photo Credit: Tony Goodwin