Clutch defense leads to 2-0 win in nightcap as softball team splits games


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Taylor Ketchum earned her fifth win, Brittney Spalding slugged the team's first home run, and the defense threw out two runners at the plate in the seventh to preserve a 2-0 win as Tennessee Tech topped Missouri State Saturday to split games in the Frost Classic.

Ketchum (5-1) pitched a complete-game, seven-hit shutout, walking two and striking out three to beat the Bears. Spalding led off the second inning with a home run to left field to stake the sophomore from Newcastle, Ohio, to a 1-0 lead.

Spalding led off the fourth with a double, moved to third on a single by Tori Gentile, and scored on a triple by sophomore Angi Sakamoto.

Ketchum stranded two Bear runners in the second inning, and got out of a huge jam in the fifth. With runners at second and third and one out, she coaxed a foul pop up for the second out, and ended the threat with a strikeout.

Missouri State's best scoring chance came in the bottom of the seventh when a single, and error and a walk loaded the bases with nobody out. Second baseman Cortney Fry fired to catches Kendall Hooper to get the first out on a force out, then Chanelle Spalding did the same from first base, forcing another runner at the plate. Ketchum got cleanup hitter Mary Stephens to ground out to end the game.

Madison Taylor and Brittney Spalding each collected two of Tech's eight hits in the game, while Stephens had two of Missouri State's seven safeties. Bear pitcher Jessie Van Es (0-6) took the loss.

The win helped coach Bonnie Bynum's team put a Saturday morning, 9-6 loss to Miami (Ohio) behind them.

A three-run double by Miami's Alli Larrabee in the first inning got the Redhawks off to a good start, but Tech battled back with five in the bottom of the first and another in the second to take a 6-4 lead off MU starter Megan Matera.

Matera settled down after that, however, and limited Tech to two hits over the final five scoreless innings to earn her first career win.

The Redhawks jumped on the board in the first as five-straight batters reached base, against TTU starter Erica Tuck. Senior Claudia Harke (2-3) took over and halted the uprising, and the Golden Eagles responded with a five-run inning.

With one out, Taylor and Chanelle Spalding drew walks and Hooper loaded the bases with a single. A walk to Hannah Eldridge brought home Tech's first run, and with two outs Brittney Spalding and Fry each ripped two-run doubles to make it 5-4.   

The Golden Eagles tacked on another run to take a 6-4 lead in the second when an infield single by Hooper drove home speedster Melody Christian.

Miami tied the score in the fifth when another double by Larabee scored for her fifth RBI of the game. The Redhawks scored two more in the sixth on a two-run double by Tiyona Marshall, and their final run in the seventh when Larabee doubled and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.

Harke (2-3) took the loss, throwing seven innings and allowing five runs on six hits. Christian, Hooper and Brittney Spalding each had two of Tech's seven hits. Larabee and Marshall each collected three of Miami's eight hits.

Tech's fifth and final game at the Frost Classic is at 11:15 a.m CT Sunday against Ohio.