By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Alyssa Arden and Alexis Groet were locked into a pitcher's duel on Friday as the Tennessee Tech and UT Martin softball teams started their season-ending set.
As each pitcher yielded three hits in the contest, it was errors that produced three unearned runs as the Skyhawks took the first game, winning 2-1.
Groet claimed her 13th win of the season in the complete-game effort, allowing one unearned run on three hits as she walked two and struck out six. Arden took the tough-luck loss, allowing two unearned runs on three hits as she walked two and struck out one.
Nicolle Nysted had two of Tech's three hits, while Sydney Love-Baker collected the other, while Kaitlyn Kelley, Kaci Fuller and Kallie Pickens each tallied safeties as the Golden Eagle defense was able to keep one of the Ohio Valley Conference's top-producing offenses quiet.
The Golden Eagles struck first, scoring a run in the bottom of the third. Mackenzie Fitzgerald reached on a fielder's choice as the Skyhawks threw out Shelby Penning at second. Fitzgerald then stole second easily and came around to score on a fielding error on Jessie Lowery's grounder to second – the speedy Fitzgerald taking two bases on the play.
UT Martin tied the game in the fifth as Fuller led off with a single to short. Pickens laid down a bunt, but ran into her own batted ball, creating the 2-unassisted play and stalling an advance. Former Golden Eagle Aalia Bivens was able to move her over with a grounder to short. Bryleigh Carneal drew a walk, then Macey Neal reached as an off-balance throw from short allowed Fuller to score.
The Skyhawks added the go-ahead run in the sixth as Kelley collected a one-out single to center field, Her pinch runner, Emily Alexander, moved over to second on a wild pitch. Maddi Long grounded out into a 5-3 sacrifice, but Alexander started toward third during the throw to first. On a return throw to third base, the ball got away from the covering Love-Baker, giving Alexander room to score.
The series continues on Saturday with a doubleheader scheduled for a 2 p.m. start. The games will be streamed on ESPN+ (subscription required) with Dylan Vazzano providing the call. The team will also honor its three seniors following the second contest.