Softball defeats TSU twice in three game series at home

THE FOLLOW THROUGH- Olivia Bennett completes her swing during one of Tech's games with TSU April 16. Photo by Shea Haile. 

The Tennessee Tech softball team won two of three against Tennessee State April 16-17. The Golden Eagles improved its conference record to 7-10. 

Tech split Saturday’s double-header with the Tigers. The Golden Eagles only had three runs to cross the plate in the first game, but they were enough when paired with a shutout and 13-strikeout performance from Danielle Liberatore. Liberatore had five hits against the Tigers in the contest.

The Golden Eagles were held scoreless in the first inning, but in the second inning freshman Gabby LaSala’s single scored Sarah Freels from second base. Tech extended its lead in the inning when another single, this time from Jessie Lowery, resulted in an RBI and a 2-0 Golden Eagle lead. Alyssa Richards crossed the plate  in the fifth inning after a single from catcher Bayli Cruse. 

Both teams were unable to score runs in the last two innings. Tech began the day on a high note with a 3-0 victory. Sabrie Neeb, Cruse, and Lowry each went 2-for-3 hitting in the first game. 

The next game began slowly for both teams. The first hit of the game came in the third inning when LaSala connected on a single to left field for the Golden Eagles. The first run of the game was scored in the sixth inning when the Tigers took a 1-0 lead after a sacrifice fly. 

The seventh inning included a critical mistake by the Golden Eagle infield. An error resulted in two runs crossing the plate for Tennessee State. The error helped the Tigers extend its lead to 3-0 and Tech had only one chance to tie or take the lead in the bottom of the seventh. Cruse grounded out into a double play for the first two outs, and a fly out by  Richards ended the game and sealed the 3-0 win for TSU. 

Head coach Bonnie Bynum stated that the team’s hitting mentally gave them problems at the plate. 

“I think we are just pressing,” said Bynum. “We are trying to do too much. Everybody is trying to be outside of what they are actually capable of doing, and we are just pressing right now.” 

The Golden Eagles took a 1-0 lead in Sunday’s game. Lowery crossed home plate after a fly out from Olivia Bennett in the third inning. Cortney Fry’s 2-RBI home run in the fourth inning extended Tech’s lead to 3-0. Another home run in the fifth , this time, from senior Neeb extended the lead to 4-0.

Liberatore made her second appearance in the series and again held the Tigers to minimal production. She relinquished a run in the final inning of the game, but it was “ too little, too late” for TSU and the Golden Eagles won the series with the 4-1 victory.

Tech had four players: Neeb, Alyssa Richards, Cruse, and LaSala go 1-for-3 hitting in the series’ finale. 

Liberatore pitched seven innings and earned her 11th win of the season. 

The Golden Eagles still have 10 Ohio Valley Conference games remaining in the regular season and has the opportunity to make moves late in the season. 

“That is the hope,” said Bynum about the team blossoming late, “We definitely have the talent. Our talent and our numbers do not reflect each other, but right now, I think we are just pressing and that is why we are falling short.” 

Tech hosted Chattanooga April 18 at the Tech Softball Field, but results from the game were not available in time for print.