COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A five-run first inning propelled No. 17 Tennessee past the Tennessee Tech softball team at the Tech Softball Field on Tuesday evening. Tech fell, 10-0, in front of a crowd of more than 600 fans, the Golden Eagles largest crowd of the season.
The Lady Vols (38-8) got off to a quick start offensively as they put five runs on the board in the top of the first inning. Tennessee batted around and forced Golden Eagle starter Holly Thomas from the game before completing the inning. Maddie Schmissrauter came in to strike out two of the four batters she faced in the opening frame.
Melody Christian led off the bottom half of the first inning for the Golden Eagles (18-26) with an infield single and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch with one out in the inning. Both Kaleigh Gates and Callie Schmidt worked deep into the count in their at-bats but were unable to advance Christian as the Lady Vols escaped the frame unscathed.
Schmissrauter kept the UT bats quiet in the second inning as she struck out two more batters and did not allow a hit.
In the bottom of the second, Whitney Cummings began the inning with a line drive to right field that nearly dropped, but a diving catch by the UT right fielder erased Cummings and kept the Golden Eagles off the scoreboard.
Tennessee loaded the bases in the top of the third with one out, but Schmissrauter induced a ground ball that Christian scooped and threw home to get the lead runner out. One batter later, Schmissrauter forced a popup to the shortstop to hold the Lady Vols scoreless in the inning.
Jordan Leff took a one-out walk in the bottom of the third inning and Christian followed with a single up the middle to put runners at first and second for the Golden Eagles. The next two batters put the ball in play but UT third baseman Jessica Spigner fielded both grounders and cut down the lead runner on consecutive plays to end the inning.
A two-run home run to start the fourth inning chased Schmissrauter from the game after 3 2/3 innings of work. She allowed just two runs while striking out five batters in relief.
Freshman Claudia Harke replaced Schmissrauter and sat down the Lady Vols in order in both the fourth and fifth innings, striking out two of the six batters she faced.
In the top of the sixth, the Lady Vols added to their lead with a three-run home run that put them ahead 10-0, which proved to be the final margin.
Ivy Renfroe picked up the win for UT as she improved to 23-2 this season, and Thomas (9-12) was charged with the loss.
Christian had both of Tech's hits on the evening as she finished 2-for-3 at the plate.
The Golden Eagles now turn their attention to Thursday when they play a doubleheader against Cumberland at the Tech Softball Field. Admission is free.