COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Tech softball team will face its toughest challenge of the 2013 season when it travels to #3/5 Tennessee. The Lady Vols, ranked third and fifth in ESPN.com/USA Softball and NCAA rankings, will play host to the Golden Eagles in a single game Wednesday night. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. CST.
The Golden Eagles (16-17, 5-4 OVC) take a break from conference action after stringing together three-straight conference victories. Tech's bats came alive in a 9-1, six inning win over the Southeast Missouri Redhawks but, the highlight of the weekend's match-ups was senior Claudia Harke's two-shutout performance. The right-hander pitched a gem against UT Martin in a 3-0 shutout Saturday, striking out four batters, including a career high three called strikeouts. The senior followed with a career high five strikeouts in the 4-0 shutout against SEMO Sunday.
Supporting the senior were three power hitters. Angi Sakamoto, Kendall Hooper and freshman Olivia Bennett blasted big hits for the Golden Eagles. Sakamoto was the first to send a deep shot over the fence in Tech's first game against SEMO. The sophomore sent a shot over left field for a three-run homer. Just three innings later, Hooper blasted a double and following suit was Bennett, only Bennett's hit ended as a walk-off home run for the Purple and Gold.
Hooper and Bennett have proved to be quite a tandem. In Tech's outing against East Tennessee State, the pair knocked back-to-back home runs for the Golden Eagles.
Tennessee: Tennessee leads the series 16-0, The last time the Golden Eagles took on the Lady Vols was in 2010. Tennessee took the contest 11-2.
- Tech is 16-17 overall this season after winning 3 out of 4 OVC match-ups last weekend.
- As a team, Tech is hitting .267, posting 137runs scored, 114 RBI and a .338 on-base percentage through 33 games.
- The Golden Eagle pitching staff combines for a 2.05 conference ERA allowing 17 earned runs in 58.0 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.
- Three players have scored 15+ runs for the Golden Eagles, including Christian, with a team-high 25 runs and is the team's stolen bases leader.
- Christian is fourth in the OVC with 14 stolen bases on 17 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 [Bennett (2), Hooper (2), Sakamoto (2), B. Spalding (2), C. Spalding (2), Gibbs, Eldridge, 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.