By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – The bats were connecting for the Tennessee Tech softball team as the Golden Eagles closed out the Black and Gold Invitation on Sunday with a pair of wins, beating Jackson State 7-6, then holding out to beat Houston Baptist 7-6.
Tech improves its record to 2-2 after the first weekend before heading to Chattanooga this upcoming weekend for the Chattanooga Challenge on Friday through Sunday, weather permitting.
Hughes went the distance against Jackson State, allowing three runs on four hits as she walked seven and struck out nine.
LaSala had three of Tech's seven RBI in the contest as she connected with a three-run triple in Tech's six-run outburst in the sixth inning to seal the game. Freshman Raleigh Lewis also drove in two, while Beth McCulley and Hughes also picked up RBI.
JSU took a 1-0 lead in the second, then Tech tied the game in the third. Chandler Caldwell drew a walk and stole second, then advanced to third on an error at short off of a ball hit by Jessie Lowery. McCulley earned her RBI as the grounder allowed Caldwell to score.
Jackson State retook a 2-1 lead in the third, but the Golden Eagles opened the flood gates in the fifth. After a Caldwell walk to open the frame, Lowey and McCulley both laid down bunt singles, then LaSala cleared the bases ahead of her with a three-run triple to right.
Hughes drove LaSala in with a grounder to second. Haeli Bryson and Sydney Love-Baker added back-to-back singles to center field, then Lewis delivered a shot down the left field line to plate the two runners.
JSU (0-3) added a run in the top of the sixth, but Hughes was able to retire the side in the final two frames to hold on for her – and Tech's – first win of the season.
The Golden Eagles, however, had to rally against Houston Baptist, trailing 5-3 heading into the top of the seventh, but a four-run inning was enough to secure the victory.
Alyssa Arden had the start, but Houston Baptist tagged her for four runs – three earned – on seven hits in the first 2 1/3 innings of work as she walked two and struck out one. Bryson came on in relief, pitching the final 4 2/3 frames, allowing two runs on five hits, walking two and striking out two.
Tech took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first as LaSala hit a two-out double down the left field line, then Hughes drove her in with a single to right before she was thrown out at second following LaSala's score.
With the score knotted at one, Tech added a second run in the top of the second as Love-Baker reached on an error at short, advanced to third on McCulley's double to right center, then scored on Ashley McGowan's grounder to second.
But Houston Baptist scored three runs in the bottom of the second to make it a 4-2 deficit.
Tech chipped away with a lone run in the fourth as pinch runner Hannah Richter stole second, then rushed home on McCulley's single to right. HBU negated that with a single run of their own in the fourth.
However, the Golden Eagles retook the lead with a four-run seventh. Love-Baker reached on an error at second to start the frame, then McCulley singled and McGowan singled to right to load the bases. Lowery drew an RBI on a fielder's choice as Houston Baptist was unable to retire a runner on the play, allowing Love-Baker to score. Caldwell popped up to short, then Alexis Trimiar picked up an RBI, driving in McCulley on a sacrifice fly to left. LaSala delivered the final blow as she drove in McGowan and Lowery with a double to left center.
HBU (1-3) slimmed the Tech lead by one with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the seventh, but Tech was able to get out of the frame to preserve the win.