By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Strong pitching, timely hitting, and impeccable defense carried the Tennessee Tech softball team to a doubleheader sweep over Tennessee State (16-29, 4-11) in a sun soaked Saturday afternoon at Tech softball field. The Golden Eagles (14-31, 6-10) combined to score 15 runs on 24 hits in 7-0 and 8-1 wins against the Tigers.
Tech pitching came to play in the twin bill sweep as the combination of freshman Danielle Liberatore (7-10) and sophomore Hannah Weaver (5-16) teamed up to limit TSU to just one run on seven total hits. Liberatore got the ball rolling in the opener, two-hitting the Tigers en route to a complete game shutout with five strikeouts. The Peotone, Ill. native made it back-to-back OVC starts in which she has hurled a complete game shutout after accomplishing the feat on Apr. 6 at Austin Peay.
Tech gave the freshman southpaw plenty of offense, scoring early with two runs in the first and three more in the third. The Golden Eagles picked up their pair of first inning runs on consecutive two-out hits by seniors Kendall Hooper and Chelsea Burgess.
With junior Angi Sakamoto on second after the 5-foot-5 outfielder singled down the left field line and stole second, Hooper brought her around with a double to deep right for TTU's first run of the ball game. Burgess then plated Hooper with a single to left, giving Tech the 2-0 advantage.
Hooper would end the first game going 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored, following up that showing with a 2-for-4, two RBI performance in the second tilt to make it six consecutive games in which the Hermitage, Tenn. native has drove in at least one run.
Sakamoto is on a similar tear of late, combining to go 4-for-8 with three RBI in the double dip, extending her season-long hitting streak to 14 games.
A Hooper run-scoring single, a Cortney Fry RBI fielder's choice, and a Hannah Eldridge sacrifice fly accounted for Tech's trio of runs in the third, while a Kendall Hooper RBI double in the fourth, and a Madison Taylor run-scoring knock in the sixth completed the Golden Eagle attack.
TSU junior Shea Morris suffered the loss, going the distance and giving up seven runs (five earned) on 11 hits.
Tech erased a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the third inning of game two, using a five-run outburst to take control of the affair. The Golden Eagles opened the frame with five consecutive hits, started off by a Kayla Floyd double down the right field line, and an Angi Sakamoto run-scoring two-bagger to left center to deadlock the score at 1-1.
After an infield single by Madison Taylor put runners on the corners with none down, freshman Alyssa Richards singled in Sakamoto with a hard hit ball through the left side, advancing to second on the throw and pushing Taylor to third. Kendall Hooper followed the Richards knock with a two-run single to center, bringing in Taylor and pinch runner Amity Brown to push the Tech edge to 4-1.
Three batters later, Hannah Eldridge plated Hooper with a single to center, capping off the TTU third inning scoring with the Golden Eagles on top 5-1.
Tech broke the game open with a three-run bottom of the fifth, using an Angi Sakamoto two-run single and a second Alyssa Richards RBI single to give the Golden Eagles a commanding 8-1 advantage.
Hannah Weaver controlled the game from inside the circle as the righty hurler out of Corona, Calif. allowed just one run on five hits in the complete game gem. Tiger freshman Hannah St. Clair (3-9) also went the distance, surrendering eight runs on 13 hits for her ninth defeat of the year.
TTU flashed the leather as well throughout the course of the afternoon as the Golden Eagles did not make an error in the two games, and had a number of stellar plays as well, highlighted by an Angi Sakamoto diving catch in the second tilt.
Tech and Tennessee State will wrap up its three-game series on Sunday with one game on the books, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. CT.