Charleston, Ill. -- Junior Kendall Hooper registered two hits, including a homerun, as the Tennessee Tech softball team was swept by the Ohio Valley Conference leader Eastern Illinois Sunday afternoon at Williams Field by scores of 6-1 and 4-1. The Golden Eagles are now 19-25, 8-10 OVC while the Panthers remain perfect at home and improve to 32-11, 19-2 OVC.
Taylor Ketchum (13-10) was charged with the loss in game one. The sophomore gave up a triple and a double in the first before finally calming into a rhythm. The Golden Eagles trailed 2-0, but Ketchum retired the next six of eight batters she faced.
In the fourth inning, Ketchum continued to roll, relying on the Golden Eagles defense to help her through the inning. Brittney Spalding threw out the first batter, and senior Melody Christian caught a tough ball in left-center to give Tech the two out advantage.
The Panthers mustered back-to-back singles, while a walk loaded the bases. With a full count, EIU's Carly Willert sent a double to right-center allowing all three Panthers to score. Willert scored on a wild pitch by Ketchum, giving Eastern Illinois a 6-0 lead. Erica Tuck took the circle, and ended the inning two batters later. Tuck finished the game giving up three hits and fended off more Panther runs in the sixth inning.
Tech was held hitless through the sixth inning off of EIU's reigning three-time adidas OVC player of the week Hanna Mennenga. Senior Chanelle Spalding got Tech's only hit of the first game in the sixth off of a single up the middle. Earlier in the inning Christian reached on a short stop error and was driven home by Spalding for the Golden Eagles lone run.
Claudia Harke (5-9) took the circle for the second game, and gave a strong performance holding the Panthers to one hit through the fifth inning. EIU scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth thanks to back-to-back triples by Melise Brown and Willert.
The Golden Eagles turned more hits in the two innings than the previous game but still came up short as four players wearing Purple and Gold found themselves stranded at the end of the first, second and fourth innings. Christian, Hooper and Chelsea Burgess all had singles. Hooper's big hit of the game came in the seventh inning when the junior hit her long drive over the centerfield fence.
Tech returns to action Wednesday in a makeup doubleheader at Morehead State. The games are scheduled for 1 pm and 3 pm CDT. The games will be crucial for both teams as both currently sit on the bubble to make the tournament field.