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Golden Eagles lock up tourney spot with doubleheader sweep over SIUE

Golden Eagles lock up tourney spot with doubleheader sweep over SIUE

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With two victories on Saturday to take both ends of the doubleheader against SIUE, the Tennessee Tech softball team is assured of one thing – the Golden Eagles will be heading back to postseason action in the Ohio Valley Conference softball championships in Peoria.

With the two wins and now four games up on the Cougars and six on Morehead State, Tech (21-21, 11-12 OVC) is assured of at least the No. 7-seed with a chance to move up further with wins in their last four games of the season and help from fellow OVC teams in the final three days of conference competition.

Sydney Kirby had a strong game in the opener, driving in all four of Tech's runs in the 4-3 victory as she went 1-for-2 with four RBI.

After SIUE (15-32, 7-16 OVC) took a 3-0 lead through the top of the fourth inning, Tech cut the deficit by a third in the bottom of the inning as Carmen Betts legged out a one-out triple to left center. Kirby then put the Golden Eagles on the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly out to left field.

In the sixth inning, Abby Shoulders led off with a single to right, then Betts laid down a bunt single back to the circle, beating out the throw. With the wind blowing out and facing a 2-1 count, Kirby launched the next pitch over the right field wall for a three-run blast, putting the Golden Eagles on top.

Lennon Spicer picked up the victory in relief, throwing the final four innings of the contest. The Cougars threatened in the seventh as Paige Rocha and Grace Lueke hit back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners, but the veteran Tech hurler coaxed a fly out to Alana Schlageter to end the contest.

Spicer went four scoreless frames, allowing four hits and striking out three to pick up her fifth win of the season. Starter Emily York was touched up for three runs on six hits across the first three innings, striking out two.

Tech tagged Sydney Baalman for four runs on six hits in six innings of work as she walked one and struck out none. Baalman fell to 4-15 on the season. Betts had two of Tech's six hits as she was 2-for-3 at the plate.

Game two was all Golden Eagles as Payton Wagner threw a complete-game, four-hit shutout to improve to 8-4 on the year. She did not walk a batter and struck out one. Her counterpart, Kelsey Ray, fell to 7-9 on the season. Ray allowed four runs – three earned – on five hits, walking one and striking out two.

Tech got the scoring going early as Mac Fitzgerald led off with a single to center field and stole second. She moved over to third on Betts' flyout to center field, then Kirby took a walk on four straight pitches. Sofia Carroll got the first of her two hits in the game as she roped a triple into right field, bringing Fitzgerald and Kirby home to roost.

After two scoreless frames, the Golden Eagles put two more on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Carroll led off with a double into right center, then an error on a bunt allowed Ella Bishop to reach. Abbee Klinefelter laid down a sacrifice squeeze and was taken out at first as Carroll crossed the plate. S.J. Talley drove in the other run as she flew out to left center, allowing Bishop to score.

SIUE threatened in the fifth, putting two runners on with a pair of two-out singles, but that was the last threat the Cougars had as Betts ended the inning on an unassisted force at third, then Wagner yielded just one hit in the sixth, then retired the side in order to close out the game in the seventh.

The Golden Eagles can close out the series with a sweep in Sunday's finale, starting at 12 p.m. The game will be followed by the annual Senior Day presentation. Admission to all games at Tech Softball Field is free to the public.

Photo | Jim Dillon

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