By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – After a month on the road, the Tennessee Tech softball team finally came home, hosting Bradley in a doubleheader. But while the first game was a back-and-forth affair, the second game was marred by a 10-run inning for the visiting Braves, leading Bradley to take the set 7-6 and 11-1 in five innings.
In all, the Golden Eagles yielded five home runs to the Braves on the day – three in the opening game and two in the nightcap.
Tech's record falls back to .500 at 8-8, while Bradley improved to 11-10.
The Golden Eagles return to action on Tuesday as they host Evansville at 3 p.m. for a single contest.
In game one, Bradley took the early lead on a leadoff home run to right on the third pitch to Lucy Mead, but Tech claimed the advantage in the bottom half of the frame as Raleigh Lewis drilled a two-run home run to left field.
The Golden Eagles extended their lead in the fourth. Hallie Davis led off with a single to left center, then Leigh Ellen Thomas knocked down a single into right center. Beth McCulley drilled a single down the left field line, loading the bases. Kayla Hughes came in as a pinch-hitter and reached on a fielder's choice as they tried unsuccessfully to get Davis at home.
Then Sydney Love-Baker cleared the bases with one swing, launching a ball into right field. The sophomore kept a fast pace the whole way, sliding into third as Thomas, McCulley and Jessie Lowery – returning to the lineup for the pinch-hitting Hughes – scored on the play.
Tech's lead, however, was chipped away. Bradley added two runs in the fifth on a two-run home run for Stacie Seeton. The Braves then scored two more in the sixth as Mead put a two-run single through the right side of the field, tying the game at six.
Bradley then took the lead in the seventh as Allison Akpe hit a leadoff home run in the frame. Tech left one on in the bottom of the frame.
Alyssa Arden went 4 1/3 innings in the start, allowing four runs on five hits as she walked one and struck out two. Haeli Bryson (2-3) was tagged with the loss, allowing three runs in the final 2 2/3 innings on eight hits, while striking out one.
For Bradley, Emma Jackson went 3 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on six hits, walking four and striking out one. Megan Mahaffy earned her third win of the season as she yielded just three hits, while striking out one.
In the second game, Tech was held to three hits – two for McCulley and one for Hughes, which also drove in the Golden Eagles' only run in the fourth inning.
Hughes took the loss, allowing eight runs – seven earned – on nine hits, walking three and striking out two in four complete innings and entering the fifth. Callie Piper closed out the frame, yielding three runs – none earned – on three hits and two walks, while striking out one.
Bradley scored one run in the second as Kealie Wysocki hit an RBI double to center field. Tech tied the game in the fourth with Hughes' double to left center, scoring Love-Baker.
But in the Bradley fifth, the flood gates opened. The Braves struck for 10 runs on eight hits and two errors in a rally that included two home runs – a pair of two-run shots for Apke and Jillian Navarro.
Facing a 10-run deficit, the Golden Eagles were only able to collect a single hit in the bottom of the fifth, enacting the run rule.
Bradley's Grace French earned the win in relief, allowing just one hit in 1 2/3 innings. Starter Julie Kestas went 3 1/3 innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits while walking and striking out two.
Photo by Matt Dexter, TTU Athletics