By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech softball team returns to Cookeville for a slew of mid-week matchups, squaring off with Lipscomb in a doubleheader on Tuesday, before taking aim at Western Kentucky on Wednesday. Tuesday's twin bill is scheduled for 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. CT, while Wednesday's single game is set to begin at 2 p.m. CT.
The Golden Eagles (8-15) come into Tuesday's double dip having won their last game on Sunday, using strong pitching and an early offense barrage to slide past Kent State, 5-2, in the finale of the UGA Softball Invitational. Tech jumped on the board with two in the first and three more in the second, providing sophomore Hannah Weaver (3-6) with all the offense that the 5-5 righty needed.
Weaver went the distance, taking a shutout into the seventh, before ultimately surrendering two earned runs to notch her third win of the season. The stellar showing on the rubber was a theme for the Golden Eagles in the tournament, with Tech pitching allowing only 11 runs in the five combined games.
Freshman Danielle Liberatore (3-5) and junior Taylor Ketchum (1-3) accompanied Weaver's sterling effort with a pair of complete game, one-run performances on Saturday in slim 1-0 losses to Purdue and Kent State.
Ketchum came up big in TTU's last appearance at home, helping lead the Golden Eagles to a sweep of Holy Cross in a doubleheader back on Mar. 5. The 6-0 right-hander from Newcastle, Okla. tossed a complete game shutout in the second game of the twin bill, a Tech 8-0 win.
Freshman Alyssa Richards put together a big week offensively, hitting .400 (8-20) in seven games, including knocking her first two home runs of her collegiate career. The Italy, Texas native also tallied six RBI's and was responsible for driving in the game winning run in the first game of the doubleheader with Holy Cross, breaking a 7-7 tie in the sixth inning with a go-ahead single.
Richards is one of five Golden Eagles with at least two home runs on the year, with sophomore Madison Taylor, junior Angi Sakamoto, and senior Chelsea Burgess setting the pace with three long balls each.
Taylor is also tops on Tech with a .284 batting average and is tied with Sakamoto for the team lead with 11 RBI's. Burgess sits atop the Golden Eagles with 14 runs scored, while senior Kendall Hooper's 20 hits have led the charge for TTU.
Lipscomb enters Tech Softball Field with a 19-4 record, having won six of the past seven thanks largely in part to senior Kelsey Cartwright. The Joelton, Tenn. native hit .500 last week, finishing the five-game stretch with a 1.000 slugging percentage, two home runs, and six RBI to take home Atlantic Sun Player of the Week honors.
Cartwright is one of seven players hitting above .300 for the Bisons, led by the junior tandem of Paige Neely and Brianne Welch, who are both hitting .390. Senior Kristen Sturdivant is the Lipscomb leader in both home runs with four and RBI's with 21.
The Golden Eagles lead the all-time series with the Bisons 11-10, but did drop both affairs in last year's pair of tilts.
Western Kentucky heads to Cookeville with a 15-7-1 record, having won six of the previous seven behind stellar pitching.
The Hilltoppers have used just three pitchers throughout the course of the year, but all three (Hannah Miniard, Emily Rousseau, Janna Scheff) have ERA's under 3.00. Miniard sports the lowest ERA at 2.10, while Rousseau leads WKU with eight wins and 72 strikeouts.
Offensively, the conversation starts with senior Olivia Watkins, who leads the team with a .500 batting average, going 40-for-80 on the season with a team-leading 21 runs scored and 20 stolen bases.
Tech and the Hilltoppers have split the all-time series, 6-6.
Admission to all Golden Eagle home regular season games is free.