Tech softball takes up Chattanooga Challenge this weekend

Tech softball takes up Chattanooga Challenge this weekend

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – After a good start to the 2019 season with a weekend split at the Southern Miss Black and Gold Invitational, the Tennessee Tech softball team hits the road this weekend in a short jaunt to Chattanooga for the three-day Chattanooga Challenge.

Tech (2-2) will take on Kennesaw State and host Chattanooga on the first day at Frost Stadium. On Saturday, the Golden Eagles will take on Toledo and Indiana State, then close out the tournament on Sunday with Dayton.

The forecast for Chattanooga has highs of 60-65 degrees, but light rain is expected in the evening on Friday with the potential for thunderstorms on Sunday.

Kennesaw State, under the first-year direction of former Texas assistant Tripp MacKay, has a 1-4 record through the first weekend. Kira Czyrklis lead the team last week at home in the Phyllis Rafter Memorial with a .500 batting average, collecting three doubles and a triple among her seven hits. Maddie Roth (.471) had eight hits, including a home run. Jessie Mullen leads the Owls in RBI with four.

In the circle, however, KSU had a tough weekend. Hailey Andrews was tagged for two losses in three appearances, compiling a team-leading 5.42 earned run average with nine walks and seven strikeouts. Abby Deane (9.26 ERA) collected the team's lone win over Morehead State, but allowed 19 runs – 15 earned – in three appearances with 14 walks and 11 strikeouts.

The game against Kennesaw State is scheduled for 10 a.m. Central on Friday morning. The Golden Eagles are 9-10 all-time against the Owls, and have lost the last four meetings.

The host Mocs enter the weekend with a flawless 5-0 record, playing in the same tournament Kennesaw State hosted last weekend. Chattanooga has a .350 batting average as a team, led by Aly Walker with a .529 clip and Morgan Kazerooni also at .500. Chattanooga had 38 RBI last weekend, led by Emma Sturdivant with eight, Walker with six, and Amanda Beltran and Katie Corum each with five.

In the circle, Mariah Ramirez (2.70 ERA) has a 3-0 mark with 14 strikeouts and seven walks, while Celie Hudson (2.57 ERA) is 2-0 with 11 walks and 18 strikeouts. Batters are hitting .128 against Hudson.

Tech will take on the host Mocs at 12:30 p.m. Central on Friday. The Golden Eagles are 7-14 all-time against Chattanooga with a 3-2 record in the last five meetings, including an 8-2 win in the 2015 NCAA Regional at Auburn, Ala.

Toledo has opened up the season with a 1-4 record following the opening weekend at the Northern Iowa Tournament. The Rockets lost to the host UNI, twice to Drake and once to Southeast Missouri before earning their first win over Saint Louis to close out the tournament.

The Rockets are led at the plate by Kylie Norwood, who has posted a .471 batting average with eight of the team's 18 RBI. Samantha Golden, with a .500 batting average in six at-bats, has driven in three.

In the circle, Erin Hunt picked up the team's lone victory, entering the weekend with a 1-1 record in two appearances. She was walked six and struck out a team-high 16. Heather Webb has the most appearances with three, tagged with an 0-1 record and an 11.57 ERA, walking and striking out nine.

Tech faces Toledo at 12:30 p.m. Central on Saturday. The Golden Eagles are 4-2 all-time against the Rockets, including 4-0 in the last quartet of meetings from 2006 to 2014.

Indiana State enters the weekend with a 2-0 record as the third contest at Stetson last week was rained out. The Sycamores won 6-4 and 10-2 in five innings. Becky Malchow led ISU at the plate with a 3-for-5 weekend, while Brooke Mann (.333) drove in a team-high three RBI of the team's total of 10. Leslie Sims is also a threat to steal, swiping all three of her attempts in the two games played.

In the circle, Gabbi Schnaiter has a team-low 1.50 ERA with one start, allowing one walk and striking out six. Tessa Sims (2.10 ERA, 2 BB, 2 K) and Arielle Blankenship (5.25 ERA, 3 BB, 5 K) each picked up victories against the Hatters.

Tech is 1-1 against the Sycamores, earning a 3-2 win in 1997 and fell 7-4 last year in Chattanooga. The Golden Eagles will square off with ISU at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Dayton enters the tournament field with a 3-2 record following last weekend's Charleston Southern Willie Jewell Invitational, earning wins over Maryland Eastern Shore, South Dakota and the host CSU squad.

The Flyers have 19 RBI under their belt, including a quartet of players with three each – Kyle Davidson (.353), Megan Gist (.333), Abby Ehrenborg (.214) and Lisa Tassi (.200). Ellie Ziegler leads the team in average with a .357 clip. Davidson is also a speedy runner on the bags, stolen all five of her attempts.

In the circle, Jessica Gilliam has not given up an earned run in her four appearances and 11 2/3 innings of work, walking six and striking out eight. She has a 1-1 record. Jessica Weaver (2.71 ERA, 3 BB, 6 K), and Catherine Jensen (10.50 ERA, 5 BB, 6 K) have each recorded victories.

Tech is 1-2 all-time against Dayton, falling 4-3 in their first meeting in 1989, as well as an 8-3 defeat in 2015 at Kennesaw, Ga. Tech won 8-2 in 2012 in Chattanooga. The Golden Eagles will face the Flyers at 9 a.m. Central on Sunday.

The Golden Eagles went 2-2 last weekend with victories of Jackson State and Houston Baptist, while falling to Central Arkansas and host Southern Miss.

Junior Kayla Hughes led the Golden Eagles at the plate with a .462 average and four RBI, while also leading Tech in the circle with a win and a 2.00 ERA in her lone appearance as she took a no-hitter into the fifth inning against Jackson State with seven walks and nine strikeouts.

Senior Gabby LaSala (.267) and freshman Alexis Trimiar (.231) led Tech with five RBI each, while the Golden Eagles were 7-for-7 on stolen bases, paced by a 2-for-2 effort from junior Beth McCulley.

Freshman Haeli Bryson (1-1, 7.27 ERA, 5 BB, 4 K) also has a win in the circle for the Golden Eagles, while fellow freshmen Callie Piper (No record, 3.50 ERA, 1 BB, 1 K) and Alyssa Arden (0-1, 8 BB, 5 K) had thrown good innings so far for the Golden Eagles.