Golden Eagles look to turn home runs into home wins
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Tech softball team has powered up its lineup, and in the past five games has blasted two home runs three times. The Golden Eagles are looking to turn up the heat and put some pressure on rivals UT Martin and Southeast Missouri this weekend. The first pitch in doubleheaders on both Saturday and Sunday will be thrown at noon.
The doubleheaders kick off a tough Ohio Valley Conference stretch with rival UT Martin on Saturday. The Golden Eagles rallied through the losers bracket last season to make it to the OVC Tournament Championship game as the six seed and face the Skyhawks. The Golden Eagles stole game one, forcing an extra game for the championship, before bowing to the Skyhawks.
For the past three seasons, seniors Melody Christian, Brittney Spalding, Chanelle Spalding and Claudia Harke have ended their season against one team: the Skyhawks. With payback on their minds, the fierce rivals will battle once again.
Chanelle Spalding was the first bat to get hot, launching two dingers on the road at Eastern Kentucky. Just two games later, Kendall Hooper followed with a two-run homer. In the same contest, Christian Gibbs came off the bench for Melody Christian and blasted the team's second home run.
Sparked by the power in her earlier round trip, Hooper sent a deep shot over the left field wall at East Tennessee State. Olivia Bennett, watched on deck, and duplicated the upperclassman's power, sending her own deep shot over the same wall.
While Tech has collected 11 home runs, only two have come in conference action and the Golden Eagles will face the Skyhawks who boast the OVC individual leaders in triples and home runs.
Sunday provides a whole different challenge for Tech. The Golden Eagles host SEMO, a team in the middle of the OVC West pack. The Redhawks have snuck away from each series against Tech with one win, and two wins in 2011.
UT Martin: Tech leads the series, 42-28, The Golden Eagles are 3-9 over the past three seasons against the Skyhawks. UTM swept the series in Martin last season, but the Golden Eagles took one game in the OVC Tournament. Tech and UTM hold one of the longest series in program history, first meeting in 1988.
SEMO: Tech leads the series, 40-38 and won last season's series, 2-1. After dropping the first game in Cape Girardeau, 6-2, Tech won 6-1 and 3-2 to take the series.
Admission to all regular season home games is free. For fans who may not be able to attend, the Golden Eagle Sports Network will be providing a live webstream of all four games (weather permitting) on the OVC Digital Network. Airtime for both days will be 11:55 a.m. with Brandon Goodwin calling the action.
- Tech is 13-16 overall this season after taking its first OVC series of 2013 at EKU and dropping both ends of a twinbill at ETSU.
- As a team, Tech is hitting .269, posting 120 runs scored, 97 RBI and a .340 on-base percentage through 29 games.
- The Golden Eagle pitching staff combines for a 1.75 conference ERA allowing 8 earned runs in 32.0 innings pitched in the OVC.
- Senior Melody Christian opened the season on a tear, connecting for at least one hit in each of her first 11 games of the season.
- Cortney Fry extended a streak of her own at ETSU, connecting for at least one hit in four straight games, including two hits in each of her last two outings at Eastern Kentucky.
- Five players have scored double-figure runs for the Golden Eagles, including Christian, with a team-high 23 runs and is the team's stolen bases leader.
- Christian is fourth in the OVC with 12 stolen bases on 15 attempts.
- Freshman Madison Taylor has a .338 batting average, collecting a multiple career-firsts during the opening weekend, including her three hits, four putouts, and 2 RBI.
- Five Golden Eagles have recorded triples, including newcomer Chelsea Burgess.
- Five Golden Eagles have hit home runs [B. Spalding (2), C. Spalding (2), Eldridge, Sakamoto, Taylor].
- Ketchum was named adidas® Ohio Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week (Feb. 11). Ketchum gave up just two hits in 10 innings of work.
- In a trip to the sunshine state, Tech ended the Under Armour Showcase 3-2, with key wins over Maine, LIU Brooklyn and Providence.
- Tech finished the Purple and Gold Challenge 0-1, losing its only contest to IPFW, 8-0.
- Tech posted a 2-2 record at the KSU Classic. The Golden Eagles opened the tournament sweeping its first two games with wins over Liberty (8 innings) and Mercer.
- The Golden Eagles finished the Eagle Round Robin hosted by Georgia Southern with a 2-2 record. The weekend was highlighted by a 3-1 victory over Akron as sophomore Taylor Ketchum threw a one-hitter Feb. 10.
- First year head coach Bonnie Bynum picked up her first win at Tennessee Tech after the team downed St. John's, 4-3 on Feb. 9. The Golden Eagles defeated St. John's thanks to a walk-off single by senior Chanelle Spalding, marking the first win against the Red Storm in program history and the first victory of the 2013 season.