By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
MACON, Ga. – An early offensive outburst was enough to keep the Tennessee Tech softball team on top in its nightcap on Friday night against Mercer to earn Golden Eagle head coach Michelle DePolo her first win in charge of the program.
Tech topped Mercer 10-7 in the second game, following a 10-2 defeat to Tulsa in the day's opener to split the first day of the Mercer Invitational.
Sophomore Raleigh Lewis had a great day, collecting two home runs – one in each game – as she collected three RBI. Her solo home run, as well as freshman Nicolle Nysted's score as Haeli Bryson was caught stealing, was all the runs Tech (1-1) mustered against the Golden Hurricane.
Bryson took the loss as she allowed eight runs on 10 hits as she walked one and struck one none. Callie Piper came on in relief in the fifth, allowing the last two runs on two hits as Tulsa walked off the contest.
Sophomore infielder Aubree Seaney did the most damage, striking for four runs as she went 2-for-3 at the plate. Senior pitcher Kassidy Scott slowed Tech's bats down, allowing just two hits – the Lewis home run in the fourth and a Nysted single in the fifth. Scott walked one and struck out four.
The second game was more in Tech's favor as sophomore Alyssa Arden held Mercer to two runs through the first four innings. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagle offense posted all of its runs in the same span.
Lewis picked up her second home run of the day in the first inning, pushing junior Sydney Love-Baker, who scored three runs in the contest, across the plate. Tech struck for three in the second inning as senior Beth McCulley drove in sophomore Chandler Caldwell with a grounder to second. Sophomore Alexis Trimiar then gave freshman KaDedra Temple and Love-Baker room to score on a single to left and unsuccessful throw home.
Mercer collected two runs in the bottom of the third, but Tech struck for five runs on four hits and an error to go up 10-2. Love-Baker scored on a fielding error off of a Lewis grounder to third, then, with the bases loaded, Nysted and Bryson picked up back-to-back walks. Senior Raegan Sparks came in as a pinch hitter and dropped a single into left center, driving in senior Jessie Lowery and Nysted.
With the Golden Eagles needing three outs to force the run rule, Mercer rallied as the Bears collected three runs on three hits – all with two down -- including an RBI single for freshman Elisa Rosado two-run home run for redshirt junior Danielle Castleberry.
After a quiet sixth, the Bears made things interesting again as Allie Jones hit a two-run double with the bases loaded and two down, but Arden was able to record her ninth strikeout of the game to end the contest.
Arden finished the complete-game effort allowing seven runs on eight hits to pick up her first win of the season. She walked eight and struck out nine among her 140 pitches in the contest, 90 for strikes.
Her counterpart in the circle, Lauren O'Dell, allowed 10 runs – four earned with four errors charged to the Bear defense -- on 10 hits, walking three and striking out one in 3 2/3 innings of work. Riley Hickok pitched the final 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits as she struck out one.
The Golden Eagles return to action Saturday morning as they play Wright State at 8 a.m. Central, followed by a contest against Dayton after that game. Wright State fell 3-2 in eight innings to Dayton, then fell 10-2 to Mercer. The Flyers also faced Eastern Kentucky following Tech's win over Mercer.