Saturday marked the beginning of the last weekend of softball in Cookeville for six Golden Eagles on the softball team: Hannah Eldridge, Angi Sakamoto, Taylor Ketchum, Erica Tuck, Christian Gibbs and Mekenzie Weems. Tech hosted the Lady Governors of Austin Peay for Senior Day game, and while the game obviously had sentimental importance, it also was important in the terms of conference standings.
Senior Angi Sakamoto fittingly was the first base runner of the game for Tech. Sakamoto reached base on a single up the middle. Another senior, Hannah Eldridge, was the next at-bat. Austin Peay pitcher Natalie Ayala delivered four balls, allowing Eldridge to take her base and Sakamoto to advance to second. Ayala would also walk Sabrie Neeb, leading to loaded bases. Alyssa Richards’ fly ball allowed Sakamoto to cross the plate for the Golden Eagles’ first score.
While the Tech batters were creating offense, Danielle Liberatore was wreaking havoc on Austin Peay batters. After getting three consecutive outs in the first inning, Liberatore allowed no hits in the second inning, giving Tech an opportunity to add to their lead in the bottom half of the second. The Golden Eagles would score five runs in that half inning.
The scoring began when a single from Kelly Kennedy resulted in an error by center fielder Rikki Arkansas, allowing Madison Taylor to score from third. Next, Tech’s Sakamoto hit a sacrifice fly to right field, allowing Kennedy to score from third. During the next at-bat, Eldridge reached on an error by shortstop Morgan Hoeg and Cortney Fry was able to score on the error. Bayli Cruse’s single scored Neeb from second and Eldridge from third. Tech’s scoring concluded when Sakamoto crossed home plate again after an Olivia Bennett double.
On the mound, Liberatore lasted until the sixth inning and allowed no runs during her outing. She struck out six and gave up two hits. Senior Taylor Ketchum closed out the game for Tech, pitching one inning. Ketchum struck out one batter and allowed one hit.
In between games, the six Golden Eagle seniors and their families were honored and greeted by Director of Athletics Mark Wilson and the coaching staff.
“It feels great. We got all of them in, all of them got an opportunity to play,” said head coach Bonnie Bynum. “It’s one those things. You definitely want to send them out the best way possible. I think the team got behind them and they were the same way – they wanted to give them a great Senior Day.”
Austin Peay initiated the scoring in the second game with two first inning runs. Tech would answer in the bottom of the second. Taylor’s triple down the right field line scored Cruse all the way from second. It was Kennedy’s turn next. She doubled to left field, scoring Taylor.
After the Lady Govs’ Hoeg added a solo shot homerun, Tech continued to produce base runners and runs in the bottom of the third. Cruse had a three RBI blast following Sakamoto’s lead off homerun. Later on in the inning, Fry’s double allowed Taylor to score from first base.
Austin Peay did not have any luck in the top of the fourth against Erica Tuck on the mound. Bennett was the source of the Golden Eagle’s third homerun of the day in the bottom of the fourth. Eldridge would add one more homer in the bottom of the sixth to complete the Golden Eagles’ scoring.
“I knew the way our hitters had been these past couple of weeks. I did not really get down on two runs,” said Bynum. “I knew it was something we could come back from.”
On the defensive side of the game, Tuck went the full seven innings on the mound. She allowed eight hits, three runs and had one strikeout against 33 batters in the last home game of her career.
“I want to have fun and I want to be remembered as a good role model for the younger kids coming up,” Tuck said about her senior year. “And, we are going to win.”
The Golden Eagles lost two games to Murray state Sunday, but they are still ranked near the top of the conference. They will be at Eastern Kentucky April 25 and April 26 to close out the regular season.