May 09, 2017
By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
OXFORD, Ala. – When it gets to this time of year, what happened in the regular season fades into a distant memory. To move on to the next step, all that matters is wins.
As the eight competing teams in this week's Ohio Valley Conference softball tournament converge on Oxford's Choccolocco Park, that though is certainly on their minds, because only one team will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals, the others are done for the year.
Tennessee Tech (16-28, 8-8 OVC) has been there, done that before – 23 of the 24 times the tournament has been hosted, to be in fact. Seven times, it's been the Golden Eagles hoisting the trophy and representing the conference in the postseason.
To do that this year, Tech has an uphill struggle, standing as the No. 7 seed and facing No. 2 UT Martin on Wednesday afternoon at 12:30 p.m.
Still, history is a bit of a catch-22 for the Golden Eagles. As the No. 7 seed previously, Tech went 0-2 in 2013, then went 2-1 in 2014 as the Golden Eagles eliminated host Jacksonville State, then were eliminated themselves after the win as weather forced the consolation bracket to be wiped out to quickly finish the tournament in time to get a winner to the NCAA.
The lowest seed Tech has received and won the conference tournament is at No. 4 in 2015. The Golden Eagles have won four times as the top seed, then twice as the No. 2.
But Tech has also found ways to succeed in the tournament, posting a 54-32 all-time record in the conference event. Against the fellow OVC teams in the tournament, Tech is 7-5 against Jacksonville State, 5-5 vs. UT Martin, 2-2 against SIU Edwardsville, 7-2 against Eastern Illinois, 3-0 vs. Murray State and 14-7 against Eastern Kentucky. Tech has not faced Belmont in tournament play. The Golden Eagles have won 10 of their last 17 OVC tournament games.
This season, weather wreaked havoc with the Golden Eagles' schedule as Tech was unable to face top-seeded JSU, No. 3 SIUE or No. 4 Eastern Illinois. Against the four teams Tech did face, the Golden Eagles went 2-6 – 0-2 to UTM, 1-1 vs. Murray, 0-2 vs. EKU and 1-1 vs. Belmont.
However, it's the Skyhawks that Tech has to contend with first. UTM beat Tech 6-5 and 10-2 in the doubleheader on March 26. The Golden Eagles batted .241 in the two meetings, collecting 13 total hits, while the Skyhawks hit .328 and drove in 13 runs to Tech's five.
Leigh Ellen Thomas (3.82 ERA) and Danielle Liberatore (6.56 ERA) had unusually rough outings in that twinbill as the pair combined for seven earned runs.
Live stats will be available on TTUsports.com, while all games will be broadcast with video on the OVC Digital Network.