By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Once upon a time – OK, only about 13 years or so ago – Tennessee Tech and Samford softball were both rivals on the field in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Flash forward to today and the two teams still see each other from time to time, but not with the frequency of the days past.
Tech and Samford will rekindle their acquaintance again on Tuesday as the two teams square off in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m.
The Golden Eagles own a 24-17 record all-time against the Bulldogs, but is only 3-5 against Samford since they left the OVC and joined the Southern Conference. The two teams split last season's meeting in Cookeville.
The Bulldogs enter the non-conference affair with a 9-21 record, including dropping their last five games and eight of their last 11. They are 1-3 against the OVC, topping Eastern Illinois 7-4 on Feb. 16, while falling 3-2 to Jacksonville State on Feb. 27, and twice to Murray State on March 10 and 11 – 4-1 and 5-1.
However, their losses have also come at the hand of some Power 5 programs, including 13-0 and 13-1 losses to No. 1 Florida State and 15-2 and 6-3 losses to Ole Miss.
As a team, the Bulldogs are hitting .219 and have been outscored 172-74. Samford is led at the plate by Madison Couch, who is hitting .310 with a team-high 16 RBI and four home runs. Whitney Hinton (.289) has 15 RBI and Hannah Trombley (.225) has 10.
Samford's pitching staff comes into the contests with a staff 5.33 earned run average. Workhorse Taylor DeCeles leads the team in innings pitched with 65 2/3, but has posted a 4.90 ERA and a 2-8 record, walking 31 and striking out 26. Lacey Spear (4-4) leads the team in wins and also has a 6.30 ERA in 30 innings of work, walking 47 and striking out 19. As a staff, opponents are hitting .305 against them.
The Golden Eagles head to Birmingham with a 10-9 record, including a 4-2 record on the road.
Beth McCulley leads Tech at the plate with a .387 batting average and a .433 on-base percentage. She is also a perfect 8-for-8 on stolen bases. Gabby LaSala (.241) leads Tech in RBI with 13, while Sydney Love-Baker (.280, 11 RBI) and Raleigh Lewis (.293, 10 RBI) have driven in runs in the double digits.
As a team, Tech is hitting .233 and has been outscored 81-74.
In the circle, Alyssa Arden leads the team in wins with six, while posting a 6-3 record with 28 walks and 51 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting .216 against her. Haeli Bryson (2-4) saw her ERA drop to 4.35 following last week's action, as did Callie Piper, who has a 1.17 ERA in six innings of relief.
Tuesday's games will be streamed live on ESPN+ (subscription required) with Graham Doty and Abby Adams providing the call.