By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Tennessee Tech softball team continued its hot play of late, sweeping Southeast Missouri (7-29, 2-16) in a Saturday doubleheader. The Golden Eagles (18-32, 10-11) won the opener 3-0 behind another outstanding performance from inside the circle by freshman Danielle Liberatore (10-10), before completing the sweep with a 5-3 win in game two.
The pair of victories brings Tech's record to 6-1 in the last seven affairs.
Liberatore continued her stellar pitching of late, shutting out the Redhawks on just two hits for the 5-foot-10 southpaw's fifth consecutive OVC win in the opening tilt. The Peotone, Ill. native fanned seven in her complete game effort, finishing the weekend striking out 19 batters after whiffing 10 in Friday's 6-2 victory over UT Martin, and two more in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader as Liberatore came on to record the save.
Sophomore Madison Taylor provided the bulk of Tech's offense in the opener as the 5-foot-2 outfielder drilled a solo home run down the right field line to break a scoreless tie in the top of the third, before doubling home freshman Gabby Perez in the top of the fourth to give TTU a 2-0 edge.
Taylor ended game one going 3-for-4, wrapping up the twin bill with four hits and four runs driven in after going 1-for-2 with two RBI in the second contest.
The Golden Eagles added an insurance run in the top of the fifth to move the lead to 3-0, scoring on a Gabby Perez RBI fielder's choice that knocked in senior Kendall Hooper, who began the frame with a single down the right field line.
SEMO freshman Aubrey Denno (3-8) was tagged with loss in going 2 1/3 innings, surrendering one earned on two hits, walking four and striking out one. Sophomore Hannah Durham pitched the final 4 2/3 innings for the Redhawks, entering the contest in the third and ultimately giving up two earned on seven hits.
TTU junior Angi Sakamoto went hitless for the game, snapping the Waipahu, Hawaii native's 17-game hitting streak.
Locked up in a tight one in game two, Tech exploded for four runs in the top of the fifth to jump ahead 4-1 after the Redhawks plated one in the bottom of the second on a Renee Terry run-scoring single to left center.
A Cortney Fry walk, a Hannah Eldridge sacrifice bunt, a steal of third by Fry, and consecutive walks to Gabby Perez and senior Kayla Floyd loaded the bases with one down in the fifth. Angi Sakamoto then tied the game, reaching on a fielder's choice that brought around Fry and moved Perez to third and Floyd to second.
Squared at 1-1, Madison Taylor broke the deadlock with a two-run single up the middle, scoring both Perez and Floyd to give TTU a 3-1 edge. Freshman Alyssa Richards capped off the four-run inning after the Italy, Texas native singled to center to plate Sakamoto.
Southeast Missouri jumped right back into the thick of things in the bottom of the fifth after loading the bases with two out. The Redhawks would go on to score a pair of two-out runs on a Leah Duffe RBI single down the left field line, and a Chelsea Smith run-scoring single to left.
Sophomore Hannah Weaver (6-16) gave up the Duffe knock, before head coach Bonnie Bynum called on Danielle Liberatore, who was greeted with the Smith RBI single to left but escaped further trouble after junior Haylee Crack was thrown out at the plate, trying to tie the game on the Smith base hit.
That hit was the only knock that Liberatore would allow in her outing, tossing consecutive scoreless sixth and seventh innings for her first career save.
Weaver earned her sixth win of the season behind an effective 4 2/3 innings, surrendering three runs on six hits. Freshman Keaira Schilling (2-12) was hit with the loss after allowing five runs on only three hits in a complete game showing.
Tech plated an insurance in the top of the fifth thanks to a Gabby Perez single down the right field line that scored senior Chelsea Burgess.
After a 3-1 weekend, the Golden Eagles sit right in the mix in the OVC playoff picture with two weekend series left in the regular season. Tech will return home on Saturday, opening up a three-game series with Eastern Kentucky on Apr. 26. The two teams will play a doubleheader, before closing out the set with a single game on Sunday.