By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The ways the Tennessee Tech softball team got its wins on Tuesday may have been dramatic, but the only thing the Golden Eagles cared about was getting the sweep over Rhode Island.
Tech stretched its winning streak to five games as the Golden Eagles beat the visiting Rams 2-1 in game one, then rallied for an 8-7 victory in the nightcap.
Taylor Waldrop (4-6) pitched her way to both wins, throwing a complete-game effort in the opener, then coming on in relief in the final two frames as the Golden Eagles surged past Rhode Island. She worked nine total frames, allowing one unearned run on four hits, walking four and striking out seven.
Tech scored first in the opening frame as Raegan Sparks came home on a Hallie Davis single down the right field line – and that was it for the Golden Eagles through the sixth inning as Tech was held to two hits in the span.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island tied the game in the seventh inning as Kylie Shivery scored an unearned run following untimely errors behind the plate and at third, coupled with a Paige Julich single to short.
With the game tied at one and one down after an Alyssa Herlocker fly out to right center, assistant coach Ashley Taylor pulled batter Gabby LaSala aside. Whatever was said between the two worked as LaSala drilled a walk-off home run to left field to end the game.
Becca Rogers took the loss, working 6 1/3 frames as she allowed two runs on five hits, walking one and striking out four.
Hughes had a solid outing, throwing five complete innings, but Rhode Island built additional runs on her record, collecting four runs on eight hits and three walks as she struck out three. Waldrop pitched the final two frames, serving as the pitcher of record when the Golden Eagles took the lead, to earn the victory.
After trailing 3-0, Tech started to chip away, earning a single run in the second as Hughes helped out her cause with an RBI single up the middle to drive in Davis. But Rhode Island made it a 5-1 contest with two more runs in the third.
Tech wasn't fazed. The Golden Eagles took a run back in the third as Sydney Love-Baker collected an RBI single to drive in Hannah Richter in the third, then put four runs on the board in the fourth as Davis and Ashley McGowan both went yard. It was the third for Davis and the first for McGowan on the season.
Aminah Wood drove in Hughes as she reached on a fielder's choice, then Richter came home on a fielding error at third. When all was said and done, Tech had a 6-5 lead after four, then made it 7-5 after five as Beth McCulley ripped an RBI single through the left side to drive in Taylor Thomas.
Tech's insurance didn't last long. Following a leadoff single for Rebecca Simms, Erica Robles knocked one out of the park, tying the game at seven with a two-run blast.
It then ended up coming down to the sixth for Tech. With one down, Bayli Cruse roped a double down the left field line, then took third on a wild pitch. Following a groundout to short that recorded a second out in the inning, Cruse wasn't taking any chances, seizing an opportunity on another wild pitch as she charged home.
The senior tried to slide under the tag, taking the brunt of the catcher's outstretched hand, but not before Cruse glided across the plate for the go-ahead run. Cruse was down briefly, but was able to shake off the collision.
In the seventh, Waldrop found herself in an early jam with a walk and a fielding error. The senior pitcher was able to coax swinging strikeouts from Simms and Robles, before Davis and Love-Baker connected on a 6-4 putout on second to end the game.
Tech (8-14) returns to action this weekend as it travels to the Memphis Tiger Classic, facing Southeast Missouri and Memphis on Friday, South Dakota and Memphis on Saturday, then Eastern Michigan on Sunday.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information