By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – As the two Illinois teams in the Ohio Valley Conference come into the Tech Softball Field this weekend, all three teams between Tennessee Tech, Eastern Illinois and SIUE have all seen their share of ups and downs.
The Golden Eagles (12-14, 2-2 OVC) actually come into the contest with the most wins between the three teams. SIUE is still looking for its first OVC games of the season with an 8-11 record, but also has not played a game since March 15 with an appearance in the Rainbow Wahine Classic at the University of Hawaii. Eastern Illinois has a 10-23 record, a 1-3 mark in league play after getting swept by Murray State and splitting a pair against Austin Peay.
Tech hosts EIU on Friday in a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m., while the Golden Eagles will entertain SIUE on Sunday in a twinbill starting at 1 p.m.
The games will be live-streamed on ESPN+ (subscription required) with Dylan Vazzano providing the call.
The Golden Eagles own a 36-23 record against the visiting Panthers, and have won three of the last four, including a doubleheader sweep in Cookeville two years ago. Eastern Illinois comes into the weekend series having lost four of its last five games and seven of its last 10.
Tech hasn't fared too much better, winning four of its last 10. The Golden Eagles picked up a win over Evansville, a win over East Tennessee State and a sweep over Morehead State, while falling to ETSU, twice to Samford, twice to Eastern Kentucky and in a single game at Lipscomb on Wednesday.
However, despite the results, the Golden Eagles have shown some promise. In Tech's last 10 games, Beth McCulley is hitting .500 with a .541 on-base percentage, bolstered by a 6-for-7 performance at Samford. She has 10 runs scored in that span and 23 total bases. Gabby LaSala (.391 in the last 10) has six home runs – four in the last three games – with 11 RBI, while Sydney Love-Baker (.357 in the last 10) has four home runs and 15 RBI.
The Golden Eagles' pitching, though, has seen some rough patches in that 10-game stretch. The team ERA over the last 10 stands at 5.87 with opponents hitting .299. Alyssa Arden is 3-3 in her last six appearances with a 4.11 ERA in those contests alone, allowing 22 runs on 28 hits with 17 walks and 24 strikeouts.
The team has given up 11 home runs in the last 10 outings – fortunately, Tech has hit 18 in that same stretch.
For the full season, McCulley is hitting .425 with 46 total bases, 17 runs scored and is 9-for-10 on stolen bases as she is providing a solid leadoff option for Tech. Only Love-Baker (20) and LaSala (19) have scored more times, while the pair have also combined for 44 RBI – Sydney with 23 and Gabby with 21.
As a team, Tech is hitting .255 with almost as many home runs as doubles – 28 two-baggers and 26 round-trippers. In the circle, the team's ERA for the season stands at 4.78, led by Arden's 3.50 to go along with her 7-6 record.
For EIU, Mia Davis and Kendyl McKeough are providing plenty of power at the plate. Davis (.300) has 22 RBI and five home runs, while McKeough (.281) has three homers and 20 RBI. Megan Burton is the team's top base-stealer with 14 swipes in 15 attempts, while Breya Cooper is the team's only other player with double-digits in RBI with 15.
EIU, as a team, is hitting .247 and has been outscored 170-126. In the circle, the team's ERA is at 4.38.
Jade Thompson has the most wins with a 4-11 record to go along with her 4.94 ERA, while McKenna Coffman has the team's top ERA with a 3.12 amongst her 2-8 record on the season.
SIUE is one of two OVC teams the Golden Eagles trail the all-time series against with the Cougars holding a 12-9 advantage. Tech, however, has won six of the last eight meetings. The Cougars have also lost seven of its last 10 games coming into the weekend.
SIUE is batting .263 as a team and has been outscored 94-78. In the circle, the team's ERA stands at 6.38 with opponents hitting .260.
The Cougars only have two batters with double-digit RBI tallies as Reagan Curtis and Zoe Schafer each have 11 runs driven in. As a team, SIUE has eight total home runs, including four for Curtis.
Emily Ingles leads SIUE in wins with a 5-5 record and in earned run average with a 5.01 mark. She has walked 32 and struck out 52 with opponents hitting .235. Corrina Rivas (7.25 ERA) has the other three wins with a 3-5 record.