By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – One down, many more to go as the Tennessee Tech softball team would hope as the Golden Eagles earned their first win of the season with a 9-5 victory over Western Kentucky on Thursday in the first day of the Chattanooga Challenge.
The day started with a 7-5 loss to host Chattanooga as it rallied from a 5-0 deficit with two runs in the second and five in the fourth to overcome the Golden Eagles' hot start.
It spoiled a strong beginning for Leigh Ellen Thomas, who kept Chattanooga to two runs in the first three innings, but finished with six runs – all earned – on two hits and four walks in three and 1/3 innings. Kayla Hughes came on in relief, working the final two and two-thirds, allowing one run on four hits.
All of Tech's runs in the opener came in the first frame. Beth McCulley led off with a single, then Raegan Sparks took a walk, then both advanced on a wild pitch. Hughes took a walk to load the bases, then Taylor Thomas picked up an RBI on a grounder to second. Gabby LaSala reloaded the bases with a walk, then Hallie Davis pushed another run across as she took a walk with nowhere to go.
Callen Griffin came up with the big hit of the frame with a two-run single to right, then Davis closed out the scoring as she came home on a passed ball.
But it was the later game where the Golden Eagles finally broke through. Taylor Waldrop pitched the complete game effort, allowing five runs – four earned – on seven hits as she walked three and struck out nine.
Tech helped her cause with a six-run third inning. Griffin reached on an error at first, then advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Alyssa Herlocker. Davis dropped a double into right center, putting runners at second and third, then a single to left allowed Griffin to come home while Davis was held up at second. Sparks singled to right to load the bases, then Bayli Cruse hit a two-run single to center. LaSala followed up with an RBI double to right center, then Taylor Thomas hit a two-run double to left for a commanding 6-0 lead.
The Golden Eagles added a single run in the fourth as Sparks drove in Davis with a double to left, then after WKU plated four in the fifth to make it a 7-4 game, Tech added two more runs in the fifth as Griffin picked up two more RBI with a double to left center, plating Taylor and Leigh Ellen Thomas.
Western Kentucky added a solo run in the seventh.
Tech (1-5) returns to action on Friday as it takes on Western Kentucky again at 2 p.m. Central.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information