Third inning offensive barrage leads Tech to first win of the year
By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
KENNESAW, Ga. – Behind an eight-run third inning that saw the Tennessee Tech softball team record nine-straight hits, the Golden Eagles cruised to their first victory of the season, defeating Kennesaw State 9-3 in the finale of a three-game series.
Already leading 1-0 after senior Kendall Hooper touched up home on a wild pitch in the first, Tech (1-7) exploded to the tune of eight runs on nine hits, sending 13 to the plate in the top of the third.
Hooper began offensive barrage with a one-out triple to right center for her second hit of the game, scoring one batter later thanks to an Olivia Bennett single through the left side to give TTU a 2-0 edge. After a Kennesaw State (4-3) pitching change, junior Hannah Eldridge doubled to right field, setting up the Golden Eagles for a big inning with runners on second and third and still only one down.
Fellow junior Angi Sakamoto put Tech ahead 3-0 with a single to right to plate Bennett, which was followed by the biggest blow of the inning, a three-run home run off the bat of senior Chelsea Burgess to push the Golden Eagles to a 6-0 advantage. It was the second round tripper in as many days for Burgess, putting her in a tie for the team lead in long balls with Bennett and Sakamoto, who also have two.
Tech still wasn't satisfied leading 6-0 as the Golden Eagles proceeded to single four straight times, scoring three more runs behind some shaky Owl defense as well. Red-shirt junior Christian Gibbs began the row of singles with an infield knock, which was followed by a Madison Taylor hit to left to put runners on first and second.
Sophomore Cortney Fry's single plated two Golden Eagles, with Gibbs scoring on the hit, and Taylor touching up home on a KSU throwing error. Freshman Gabby Perez put a ribbon on the eight-run frame, singling through the right side to score Fry to give the Golden Eagles a 9-0 advantage.
When it was all said and done it took three Owl pitchers to get through the third inning with each Tech player in the lineup picking up a base knock.
The nine-run cushion was more than enough for freshman Danielle Liberatore (1-3), who picked up her first collegiate victory by tossing six innings and allowing three runs on ten hits, walking two, and striking out four.
Kennesaw State starter Morgan Sikes (0-1) suffered her first loss of the season, going 2.1 innings on the afternoon, surrendering three runs (two earned) on three hits with one walk and zero punch outs.
Tech will get back to tournament action with the Frost Classic hosted by UT Chattanooga, scheduled for Feb. 21-23. The Golden Eagles will play five times in the span of just three days, squaring off with Toledo and Ohio on Friday, Campbell and Northwestern State on Saturday, and Radford on Sunday.