Danielle Liberatore shines in the circle as Tech earns split at Austin Peay

Danielle Liberatore shines in the circle as Tech earns split at Austin Peay

By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Behind a tremendous outing by freshman pitcher Danielle Liberatore (6-9), the Tennessee Tech softball team forced a split in its Sunday doubleheader at Austin Peay. The 5-10 lefty hurler out of Peotone, Ill. tossed a complete game shutout with 10 strikeouts to propel the Golden Eagles (12-30, 4-10) to a 7-0 win in the opener, before the Governors (17-21, 6-7) seized a 6-3 victory in the second game.

Tech gave Liberatore a nice cushion in the opening tilt, scoring four in the first and adding two more in the second to jump out to the early 6-0 lead. With two outs and the bases empty in the top of the first, freshman Alyssa Richards was hit with a pitch, before coming around to score one batter later on a Kendall Hooper single and an APSU throwing error to push the Golden Eagles to a 1-0 edge.

Senior Chelsea Burgess followed Hooper's single with a hit-by-pitch, leading to a Cortney Fry two-run double to give TTU a 3-0 advantage. Fry came around to score one batter later on a second Govs' error on a ball hit by junior Hannah Eldridge.

Junior Angi Sakamoto was responsible for knocking in Tech's pair of runs in the second inning, as the 5-5 lefty swinging outfielder drilled a two-run home run to right field to extend the lead to 6-0. Sakamoto's round tripper broke the tie with Chelsea Burgess for the team lead with five long balls, extending her team-leading RBI mark to 23 as well.

The Golden Eagles added a run in the top of the sixth thanks to a solo home run by Alyssa Richards, the freshman's third of the year.

Danielle Liberatore was still the story of the game, allowing just four hits in earning her team-leading sixth win of the season, navigating through the contest with little trouble. In fact, Liberatore enjoyed a stretch of retiring 11 straight batters from the first inning to the fifth.

Austin Peay senior Lauren de Castro (11-8) was tagged with the loss, giving up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits in a complete game effort.

Tech fell into trouble early in the second game as the Governors plated one in the first and five more in the second to take a 6-1 lead after two innings. The Govs used a de Castro RBI single in the first for their lone run in the frame, before attacking TTU with a two-run Chandler Groves single, a Mel Pavel run-scoring knock, and a de Castro two-run double to tack on the five more in the second.

The Golden Eagles chipped away with a run in the third on an Alyssa Richards RBI single up the middle to cut the deficit to 6-2, before adding one more in the top of the fourth after Hannah Eldridge dented home on a wild pitch.

Ultimately the comeback bid fell short behind a strong showing from inside the circle by senior Taylor Mills (1-0). The Ft. Gibson, Okla. native went the distance, scattering nine hits and allowing three earned to pick up her first win of the season.

TTU mounted a rally in the sixth inning after putting two on with two out on consecutive singles by Hannah Eldridge and sophomore Samantha Cook, but Mills bounced back to retire red-shirt sophomore Mekenzie Weems on a bouncer to second to end the threat.

Golden Eagle starting pitcher Hannah Weaver (4-16) twirled a complete game, giving up six runs, but only one earned in suffering the loss.

Angi Sakamoto followed up her strong game one performance with a three-hit game two, while Alyssa Richards and Hannah Eldridge each collected multi-hit showings as well with two knocks each.

Tech will take a break in their conference slate for the last time this season, traveling to the defending national runner up in the University of Tennessee on Tuesday, Apr. 8 for the Golden Eagles final non-conference battle of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT.