By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
AUBURN, Ala. – A tough afternoon for the Tennessee Tech softball team as the Golden Eagles fell 9-1 to Notre Dame and 13-0 to North Dakota State in day two of the Plainsman Invite hosted by Auburn University.
A pair of rocky starts found Tech (0-3) staring into early deficits in both affairs as the Golden Eagles trailed 7-0 after two innings to Notre Dame (1-0) in the first tilt, and 4-0 after two frames to the Bison (2-1) in the second contest.
The Golden Eagles began the day in promising fashion after putting their first two runners aboard in the top of the first on a Kendall Hooper single and an Olivia Bennett hit by pitch, but were unable to scratch anything across before the Irish bats exploded for four runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Notre Dame senior Laura Winter kick started the offense with a two-out RBI single to left to plate freshman Karley Wester, who had walked and stole second earlier in the frame, but the big blow came off the bat of junior Cassidy Whidden, who smacked a three-run home run to left center off Tech junior Taylor Ketchum to give the Irish the early 4-0 advantage.
The Golden Eagles put two on again in the second behind a Madison Taylor double, the sophomore's second extra base hit of the young season, and a Cortney Fry walk, but for the second consecutive inning, Tech could not touch up home.
Notre Dame capitalized on the Golden Eagles inability to cash in with runners on, plating three in the bottom of the second thanks to a two-run triple from junior Katey Haus and an RBI groundout off the bat of senior Laura Winter.
A pair of Irish hurlers, sophomore Allie Rhodes and freshman Rachel Nasland, kept the Golden Eagle offense at bay, with Rhodes securing the win with four innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits in the process.
Across the way, Taylor Ketchum suffered her second loss of the year, as the Newcastle, Okla. Native couldn't make it out of the first inning, surrendering four earned runs on two hits and a pair of walks. Sophomore Hannah Weaver made her 2014 debut, entering the affair in the first inning and pitching the remainder for the Golden Eagles, allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits, three walks, and two strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work.
Tech suffered a similar fate in the second game against North Dakota State, as the Golden Eagle bats mustered just two hits and four base runners, all of which occurred in the first two innings.
Just like against Notre Dame, TTU put its first two base runners on in the first inning on a Kendall Hooper single and a Hannah Eldridge walk, but were unable to score after Olivia Bennett struck out and freshman Alyssa Richards bounced into a double-play.
The Golden Eagles surrendered runs in each and every inning to the Bison, including two in each of the first three frames to trail 6-0 early on. All but one North Dakota State player had at least one hit, and all but one drove in at least one run, highlighted by freshman Danielle Renner's four thanks in large part to a three-run home run in the top of the fifth.
Four Tech pitchers saw action inside the circle with starter Danielle Liberatore suffering the loss with 1.1 innings of work, allowing four earned on three hits and five walks.
NDSU junior Krista Menke earned her first win of the season, blanking the Golden Eagles in a complete game, two hit, one walk, six punch-out effort.
Tech will try and dust themselves off with two more games on tap tomorrow to close out the Plainsman Invite. The Golden Eagles will battle with host Auburn at 1 p.m. before a rematch with Louisiana-Monroe at 3 p.m. Tech fell 9-6 to the Warhawks in a thrilling affair on Friday.