By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A slow start and a tough day at the dish cost the Tennessee Tech softball team on Wednesday as Western Kentucky (16-8-1) edged the Golden Eagles (8-18), 6-1 amidst frigid conditions at Tech Softball Field.
TTU managed just three hits in the affair, two of which were in the bottom of the first on an infield knock by senior Kendall Hooper and a firm single through the left side by freshman Alyssa Richards that led to Tech's lone run after junior Angi Sakamoto smacked a sacrifice fly to right to bring home Hooper.
The run cut the deficit to 3-1 after the Lady Toppers plated three in the top half of the first, despite notching only one hit in the frame. WKU began the inning with junior Preslie Cruce reaching on an error, which was followed by a fielder's choice, a walk, and a Shawna Sadler single to load the bases with one down.
The Lady Toppers scored their first run on an Amanda Thomas sacrifice fly, before a double steal and a wild pitch gave them the early 3-0 lead.
WKU extended its lead with single runs in the third, fourth, and sixth innings, using an Amanda Thomas RBI single through the left side in the third, a Preslie Cruce solo home run in the fourth, and a Shawna Sadler sacrifice fly in the fifth to take the 6-1 edge.
Sophomore Hannah Weaver (3-8) was saddled with the loss, going 3 2/3 innings and giving up five runs (two earned) on five hits. Junior Taylor Ketchum compiled a solid performance in relief as the 6-0 righty from Newcastle, Okla. did not allow an earned run in the final 3 1/3 innings, surrendering just one hit.
Freshman Hannah Miniard (8-2) went the distance in earning her eighth win of the season, allowing one earned run on three hits, walking three and striking out eight Golden Eagles.
Tennessee Tech will now hit the road to open up Ohio Valley Conference play over the weekend, traveling to Jacksonville State for a three-game series. The Golden Eagles will play a doubleheader with the Gamecocks on Saturday, Mar. 15, beginning at 1 p.m., before closing out the series with a single game on Sunday.