Golden Eagle shock Gamecocks, claim 6-3 win over 23-hour span

Golden Eagle shock Gamecocks, claim 6-3 win over 23-hour span

By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – It was worth the wait. After heavy rainfall caused a 21 hour, 21 minute delay, the No.7 Tennessee Tech softball team put together a comeback that won't soon be forgotten in Golden Eagle lore, scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to upset the No. 1 team in the OVC Tournament, Jacksonville State (40-15), 6-3.

In the top of the sixth inning on Friday, the skies opened up atop University Field, causing the nearly day-long delay that sent the Golden Eagles (25-34) with a three-run deficit and only six outs to play to sleep on.

Tech came back Saturday morning with the type of resiliency that defines a program, plating six runs in the bottom of the sixth to reverse a 3-0 score, winning 6-3 to keep its season alive.  

Sophomore Cortney Fry began the comeback bid, blasting a two-run home run off the left center field scoreboard to trim the deficit to 3-2. After a single by junior Hannah Eldridge, a groundout from freshman Gabby Perez that advanced Eldridge to second, and a single by senior Kayla Floyd that put runners on the corners with one down, junior Angi Sakamoto stepped to the dish.

The 5-foot-5 outfielder delivered with the biggest hit of the season, a three-run, go-ahead home run to give TTU a 5-3 edge. Sakamoto goes yard for the second consecutive tourney tilt, giving her seven RBI in the tournament and eight total round trippers on the year.

The Golden Eagles tacked on a key insurance run behind a Chelsea Burgess run-scoring single that brought around sophomore Madison Taylor to give Tech a 6-3 advantage. Burgess ended up reaching base twice in the chaotic frame, starting things off with a hit-by-pitch right before the Fry home run.

As if the dramatic comeback needed any extra intrigue, the Golden Eagles did all the damage off of the OVC Pitcher of the Year in JSU senior Tiffany Harbin (18-8). The Hazel Green, Ala. native posted a remarkable 0.69 ERA during conference play in the regular season, but suffered the loss after coming in relief and giving up six runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Not to be lost in all of the thrilling action was another outstanding effort from TTU freshman Danielle Liberatore (15-11). The 5-foot-10 southpaw collected her second consecutive tournament victory, going the distance and giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits, walking three and striking out 10 Gamecocks.

Liberatore danced around a leadoff double in the top of the seventh inning by freshman Taylor Sloan, coming back to retire the next three JSU hitters, including back-to-back strikeouts on junior Savannah Sloan and senior Amanda Maldonado to end the game.

Jacksonville State jumped out to a quick start behind a leadoff home run by sophomore Ella Denes, the Pisgah, Ala. native's third long ball of the tournament. The Gamecocks added two more runs in the fifth inning, scoring on a Stephanie Lewis bunt and a Tech error.

Tech now awaits the winner of the tilt between No. 3 Eastern Illinois and No. 5 Eastern Kentucky. The Golden Eagles will clash with the victor at 3:30 p.m. CT on Saturday in TTU's third elimination game of the tournament. Should Tech win, the Golden Eagles will be right back at it at 6 p.m., taking on the No. 2 SIUE-No. 4 Murray State loser for the right to go the championship Sunday.

Fans can listen to the remainder of the action on the Internet or radio via The Golden Eagle Sports Network on 106.1 The Eagle or watch a free webstream on the OVC Digital Network.


Photos from Saturday's comeback by Matt Reynolds, JSU

Madison Taylor slides home with Tech's sixth run of the inning

Amity Brown, Cortney Fry and Kayla Floyd wait at the plate for Angi Sakamoto

Senior Kendall Hooper missed graduation Saturday....but that's quite okay!

Angi Sakamoto rounds the bases after her second home run of the tournament

Hannah Eldridge stands on third base as coach Bonnie Bynum looks over her roster card

Over at first base, Kayla Floyd and Tiffany Wilkinson talk strategy

Cortney Fry (right) gets a hug from Chelsea Burgess following her two-run home run

Cortney Fry rounds third and heads for home after smashing a two-run home run to start the rally

Freshman Danielle Liberatore struck out 10 in the contest to get her 15th win of the season