Hooper’s walk-off round tripper, Weaver’s dominance, lead Tech to doubleheader sweep
By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It seemed only fitting that on a day in which she and fellow seniors Kayla Floyd and Chelsea Burgess were honored for their careers, Kendall Hooper would blast a walk-off home run in extra innings to help send the Tennessee Tech softball team to a doubleheader sweep over Morehead State (15-33-1, 9-15) on Senior Day.
Sophomore Hannah Weaver (7-18) pitched a gem in the second game, coming within two outs of a no-hitter in leading TTU (22-33, 14-12) to a 4-0 victory to complete the sweep after Hooper's two-run eighth inning walk-off shot pushed the Golden Eagles to a 5-3 win in the opener.
Squared away at 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth in the day's opening affair, freshman Alyssa Richards worked a walk to begin the frame. Up stepped Hooper, who had already played a pivotal role in Tech's sixth inning comeback, leading off the inning with a double before coming around to score on a Cortney Fry sacrifice fly that knotted the tilt at 3-3.
This time Hooper sent a towering fly ball over the left-center field fence, capping off the extra inning thriller in grand fashion. The long ball was the sixth of the season for the Hermitage, Tenn. native, breaking a tie with junior Angi Sakamoto for the team high.
Hooper would go on to collect two more hits in the second game, including a two-run triple to end the double dip going 4-for-7 with three extra base hits.
The walk-off home run also secured the eighth consecutive OVC win for freshman Danielle Liberatore (13-10), who tied a career high with 13 strikeouts, also matched on Feb. 22 in a nine-inning win over Campbell, the fourth most in Tennessee Tech history.
In addition, Liberatore bumped her record to 10-2 in conference play, hurling all eight innings, surrendering only four hits and three unearned runs.
TTU led 2-0 heading into the top of the fifth before Morehead State mounted a comeback to take a 3-2 edge. A leadoff infield single by senior Samantha Howard was followed by a Jamie Massaro sacrifice bunt and an error that put runners on the corners with none down. A sacrifice fly off the bat of freshman Karly Thompson brought the Eagles within a run at 2-1, before a two-run home run from sophomore Lizzy Margagliotti put Morehead ahead 3-2, two batters later.
The Golden Eagles deadlocked the score in the bottom of the sixth on a Cortney Fry sacrifice fly, the sophomores third baseman's second RBI of the contest, before Tech nearly won the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Senior Kayla Floyd picked up an infield single with one down in the seventh, swiping second one pitch later to move into scoring position. Junior Angi Sakamoto followed the Floyd thievery with a hard smash that appeared to be headed into right field, but behind a brilliant diving play by Morehead senior second baseman Stephanie Etter, Sakamoto was robbed of a hit and the Golden Eagles were kept off the scoreboard.
Eagle starter Tanna Seuferer (9-14) saw her five-game win streak snapped, despite pitching into the eighth inning, surrendering five runs on 10 hits.
The second game was all about the brilliance of Hannah Weaver, who came within two outs of the first Golden Eagle no-hitter since Holly Thomas accomplished the feat on Feb. 25, 2011 against IUPUI.
After retiring junior Katie Raile on a line out to short to begin the final frame, Weaver allowed a single up the middle by Morehead cleanup hitter Tressa Watson, the third and final batter to reach in the contest after Weaver walked two earlier in the game.
Offensively, the Golden Eagles jumped on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth, breaking a 0-0 tie on an RBI single up the middle by senior Kayla Floyd that plated junior Hannah Eldridge with the first TTU run.
Tech broke the game open with three in the home half of the fifth inning, using a two-run Kendall Hooper triple and a Cortney Fry run-scoring sacrifice bunt to push the Golden Eagle advantage to 4-0.
TTU did the bulk of their scoring off of senior Kelcey McMurray (1-5), who was saddled with the loss after pitching into the fifth inning, giving up three earned on four hits, with six walks and two strikeouts.
The two teams will close out the series and regular season on Sunday, meeting up at Tech Softball Field for a single game beginning at 1 p.m. CT.