Cinderella story ends as Tech falls in championship game

Samanta Everett tags a runner at second. Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski
Samanta Everett tags a runner at second. Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski

MARTIN, Tenn. -- After beating each of the top four seeds in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, including top-seeded UT Martin to force the if-necessary game, the Tennessee Tech softball team ran out of magic as the Skyhawks took a 6-2 win Saturday afternoon to capture the title.

The Golden Eagles entered Saturday having to win three straight games to win the OVC Championship. Following a 5-3 win over Murray State, Tech was up to the task of handing UT Martin it's first loss of the tournament, downing the Skyhawks, 3-1.

In the rematch, however, the regular season champs used a five-run fifth inning to key a 6-2 victory.

Freshman starter Taylor Ketchum (3-8) was crusing along with a 2-1 lead when she ran into trouble in the fifth as Erica Duke smacked a one-out solo home run to tie the game. Two infield singles set the table for Kayla Wade, whose triple to center scored both runners and made it a 4-2 UTM lead. Jenny Bain followed with a two-run home run to make it 6-2.

Claudia Harke came on in relief and got out of the inning. With one out in the sixth, Holly Thomas took over for Harke and threw 1.2 innings of perfect relief to give the Golden Eagles a chance.

But UTM's Chelsea Jones (28-8) didn't allow Tech to get anything going after the second inning. The OVC Pitcher of the Year, Jones struck out nine, didn't walk a batter and scattered six hits.

Tech took a 1-0 lead in the first on a single by Kendall Hooper that scored Melody Christian. Christian reached on a single through the right side, but that was changed to an error after she came in to score, making the run unearned.

The Skyhawks answered in the second as Kenzi Tate doubled to plate Be Williams to make it 1-1.

The Golden Eagles regained the lead in the bottom of the second as Chanelle Spalding beat out an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice by Cassie Garrett. With two outs, Angi Sakamoto's single off Jones' glove allowed Spalding to score all the way from second base for a 2-1 lead.

From there, Jones slammed the door, allowing just two hits over the final five innings and retiring 15 of the 17 batters she faced.

Tech finished the year with a 27-32 record. UTM improved to 39-20 and will represent the OVC in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Thomas, Hooper and Brooke Basten were named to the all-tournament team:

Photo credit - Jim Hooper

Diane Gallagher, Eastern Kentucky
Melise Brown, Eastern Illinois
Abbey Stepp, Jacksonville State
Mandi Kellerman, Murray State
Shelby Kosmecki, Murray State
Holly Thomas, Tennessee
Kendall Hooper, Tennessee Tech
Brooke Basten, Tennessee
Jenny Bain, UT Martin
Kayla Wade, UT Martin
Becca Williams, UT
Chelsea Jones, UT Martin (MVP)