By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
ATHENS, Ga. – Pitching, pitching, and more pitching proved to be the theme of day two of the UGA Softball Invitational. The Tennessee Tech softball team allowed only two runs in matchups with Purdue (8-12-1) and Kent State (10-6), but were handed a pair of losses, both by 1-0 finals.
A classic pitcher's duel unfolded in the opener, with Tech's Danielle Liberatore (3-5) and Purdue's Lilly Fecho (6-6) matching each other pitch for pitch. The two combined to throw up zero after zero, with neither club putting together a real scoring opportunity until the bottom of the fifth when the Golden Eagles (7-15) rallied with two down.
After consecutive outs to begin the frame, junior Hannah Eldridge singled up the middle, before sophomore Samantha Cook walked to put runners on first and second. The scoring threat went by the books thanks to a Fecho strikeout, one of 10 on the afternoon for the sophomore from Carol Stream, Ill.
Eldridge's single was one of two knocks for the Fayetteville, Tenn. native, after Eldridge smoked a double in the bottom of the third to account for Tech's lone multi-hit showing.
The game entered the top of the seventh still scoreless, but behind a two-out RBI double to right center off the bat of senior Tori Chiodo, the Boilermakers took the lead.
Liberatore was handed with a tough luck loss, despite stringing together one of her best performances as a Golden Eagle. The 5-10 southpaw went the distance, allowing just one earned, while scattering eight hits.
Fecho notched her second consecutive win against Tech, tossing a complete game shutout, while giving up three hits.
Junior Taylor Ketchum (1-3) followed up Liberatore's fantastic performance inside the circle with one of her own in the day's second game against Kent State, going the distance and giving up just one earned run.
The Golden Eagles had their chances throughout the affair, putting a runner in scoring position in four of the seven innings, including in the sixth inning when Tech opened up the frame by putting its first two runners on. Sophomore Madison Taylor began the inning with a walk, which was followed by an Alyssa Richards single. Richards was the only Golden Eagle to notch two hits in the game, finishing 2-for-3.
TTU couldn't capitalize on the threat as Golden Flashes' reliever Ronnie Ladines retired the next three hitters to end the inning. Ladines would go on to pitch a 1-2-3 seventh to earn the save, closing out the win for senior Lauren McNeil (2-1), who tossed five scoreless, scattering five hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
Kent State scored the game's only run in the top of the fourth, using a Lauren Kesterson RBI single through the left side to plate senior Abbey Ledford.
Tech will have a chance at revenge on Sunday, closing out its stay in Georgia with a rematch against Kent State at 8 a.m. CT.