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Early offense pushes Golden Eagles to a doubleheader split with Belmont

By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Behind a big first inning in game one, the Tennessee Tech softball team forced a split in its Sunday doubleheader with Belmont. The Golden Eagles (10-26, 2-8) plated six in the top of the first inning of the opener to cruise to a 6-3 victory, before the Bruins (9-20, 3-7) responded with a 10-2, five-inning win in game two.

The six-run first inning onslaught in the afternoon's opening tilt began after TTU put its first two runners aboard with junior Hannah Eldridge stepping to the plate. The 5-5 shortstop christened the scoring with a two-run single to give Tech a 2-0 advantage.

Eldridge then promptly stole second, which was followed by a Kendall Hooper walk to put runners on first and second with still no one down and senior Chelsea Burgess headed to the dish. Coming off a two-hit showing on Saturday, Burgess rocketed a two-run triple to right field, pushing the Golden Eagles to a 4-0 edge.

Tech tacked on two additional runs in the frame, scoring on an Olivia Bennett RBI fielder's choice and a two-out run scoring double off the bat of freshman Gabby Perez.

After being handed a 6-0 lead before even setting foot inside the circle, freshman starting pitcher Danielle Liberatore (5-7) held up her end of the bargain in tossing a complete for her fifth victory of the season.

The Peotone, Ill. native scattered seven hits while surrendering three earned, falling into trouble just once in the contest after Belmont touched Liberatore up for three in the second inning. Two extra-base hits for the Bruins accounted for the three-run second, scoring a run on an RBI triple from senior Mia Vierra, and two more on a two-run double by freshman Amy Zeronian two batters later.

Senior Brittanie Albright (2-9) suffered the loss after the 5-11 righty out of Franklin, Tenn. was unable to record an out in the shaky first inning. Albright was responsible for five of the six Tech runs, while the other run was charged to senior Mia Vierra, who ended up pitching the remainder of the game for the Bruins, without allowing an earned run.

The Golden Eagles received stellar production from the top of their order as Tech's 1-2-3 hitters, Angi Sakamoto, Madison Taylor, and Hannah Eldridge combined to go 5-for-11.

Tech raced out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of game two as the Golden Eagles combined to score 10 first inning runs in the three-game series with the Bruins. Kendall Hooper singled to score Hannah Eldridge for the first Tech run, while an error to plate Hooper two batters later accounted for the second TTU run.

Belmont responded to the early deficit by scoring 10 unanswered, scoring two in the first, six in the third, and two more in the fourth to take the game in five innings.

The Bruins 2-5 hitters, junior Kirbie Ferrell, sophomore Jessica Wilson, junior Kat Hollingsworth, and sophomore Jordan Daly combined to go 8-for-11 with four RBI's and five runs scored. A Hollingsworth double and a Daly triple in the first inning tied the game, while two bases loaded walks, an RBI single by Amy Zeronian, a Golden Eagle error, and a run scoring single from Kirbie Ferrell gave the Bruins six in the third. Belmont capped off the scoring with a Taylor Moon two-run double in the bottom of the fourth.

Moon (5-5) also did it on the rubber in the affair, earning the win with four innings pitched, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits. Tech's Hannah Weaver (3-14) was hit with the loss after going two innings, allowing six runs (four earned) on seven hits.

TTU takes a break in its conference slate on Wednesday, Apr. 2, as the Golden Eagles head to Chattanooga to square off with the Mocs in a doubleheader. Game one is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. CT, while the second one will start at 5:30 p.m. CT.