By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech softball team continued its roll of late, splitting a doubleheader with Eastern Kentucky (27-18, 14-7) in the first two of a three-game series under a gorgeous Saturday afternoon at Tech Softball Field. The Golden Eagles (19-33, 11-12) have now won seven of their last nine games.
After a classic pitcher's duel between Tech's Hannah Weaver (6-18) and EKU's Leanna Pittsenbarger (19-8) swung the Colonels way with a 2-0 Eastern Kentucky victory, TTU responded with a dominating 9-1 showing that ended in five innings in the second tilt to salvage the split.
The Golden Eagles opened up the second game by throwing up a six-spot in the bottom of the first, capitalizing on some shaky EKU play as Tech had just one hit in the frame. TTU walked four times and was hit with a pitch in the inning, using three Colonel errors as well to jump out to the 6-0 advantage. The lone hit in the frame came off the bat of freshman Alyssa Richards as the Italy, Texas native singled through the right side to plate sophomore Madison Taylor with the first run of the inning.
Richards would go on to reach base three times in the game, going 2-for-2 with a walk, a run scored, and an RBI.
Following the Richards run-scoring knock, EKU starting pitcher Haley Flynn (6-3) walked four straight, including free passes to sophomore Cortney Fry and junior Hannah Eldridge with the bases loaded to push the Tech lead to 3-0.
With the bases still juiced and only one down, freshman Gabby Perez reached on an error that scored both sophomore Samantha Cook and Hannah Eldridge, before senior Kayla Floyd capped off the first inning barrage with a sacrifice fly to center that brought home Fry to give TTU a commanding 6-0 edge.
Fry would be heard from later in the affair, with the 5-foot-6 third baseman slugging her first home run of the season in the bottom of the third, a leadoff shot over the right centerfield wall to push the Golden Eagle lead to 7-0.
Similar to Richards, Fry would also reach three times via a walk and two hits, ending the second game with two runs scored and three RBI.
Tech would go on to score another run in the third behind a Madison Taylor run-scoring single, before TTU put a ribbon on its scoring with a two-out Fry RBI single in the bottom of the fourth to give the Golden Eagles a 9-0 advantage.
Inside the circle, freshman Danielle Liberatore (11-10) held up her end of the bargain with her sixth consecutive OVC victory thanks to a complete game effort in which the Peotone, Ill. native gave up just one run on only two hits.
Sophomore Haley Flynn was hit with the loss after lasting just three innings and surrendering eight runs (five earned) on four hits and five walks.
Eastern Kentucky junior starting pitcher Leanna Pittsenbarger led the Colonels to a win in the opening game, 2-0, just edging out Tech's Hannah Weaver in a gritty pitcher's duel.
Both pitchers went the distance with Pittsenbarger earning the victory behind a three-hit shutout in which the 5-foot-8 righty struck out nine Golden Eagles. Weaver suffered the tough luck loss, despite allowing just two runs on nine hits.
Scoreless through three, EKU plated solo runs in the fourth and fifth to account for the Colonel scoring. Junior Katie Tackett collected a one-out RBI single down the left field line in the fourth for Eastern Kentucky's first run, while a two-out run-scoring single to left from senior Christina Ciolek in the fifth gave EKU their second score.
The two teams will be right back at it on Sunday, closing out the weekend set with a single game beginning at 1 p.m. CT.