Harke throws a gem to force a split with rival UT Martin
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Claudia Harke's purple stoned earrings shined as bright as her game Saturday afternoon as the senior posted her second complete game shutout of her career. The Golden Eagles split an Ohio Valley Conference doubleheader against UT Martin. Tech shutout the Skyhawks 3-0 in the second game while UT Martin took the first 9-1 in six innings.
Harke (3-4), struck out a season-high four batters, three of them looking. She allowed only four runners to reach base, holding the Skyhawks to two hits and one walk. The right hander relied heavily on her teammates, funneling any connections to her infield with nine outs coming from third baseman Brittney Spalding and shortstop Hannah Eldridge.
After dropping the first game in six innings, the Golden Eagles were the first to light up the scoreboard when Kendall Hooper sent a hard grounder to the second baseman and just barely beat the throw after a muffed pick-up. Olivia Bennet followed with a beautiful bunt just feet in front of home plate, also beating the toss to first. With two batters on, Brittney Spalding drilled a hard line drive up the left side, advancing Hooper to third. With runners on first and third, rookie Cortney Fry launched a ball up the middle to send Hooper home.
Holding the Skyhawks scoreless in the third, Tech raced to get another run on the scoreboard as senior Melody Christian singled up the middle then stole her 13th base of the season. Christian scored on a double by Chanelle Spalding, marking a capstone game for the senior class that has struggled against UT Martin in their careers. In two innings, the Golden Eagles had matched the hit total from the previous game.
In the fourth, Brittney Spalding collected a double of her own and scored on an error by the catcher when she raced toward home on a bunt by Chelsea Burgess. From there the bats went silent for the Purple and Gold, but Tech's defense held strong, ending the game 3-0 against the top pitcher in the conference Kenzie Tate (14-2).
UT Martin powered past Tech in the first game, scoring two runs in the first, one in the second and five in the third, as Taylor Ketchum (10-7) took the loss in 2.1 innings of work. Erica Tuck pitched 3.2 innings of relief.
The Golden Eagles managed one run in the third inning from Cortney Fry.
Tech returns to the field Sunday as it hosts Southeast Missouri in OVC action. The doubleheader is set for a noon start.