By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Following a tough weekend at Murray State, the Tennessee Tech softball team will have to quickly move past that performance as they get set to host Jacksonville State in an Ohio Valley Conference doubleheader on Tuesday.
First pitch is slated for 2 p.m. at the Tech Softball Field. Admission is free.
The visiting Gamecocks slipped into second place in the OVC standings with an 8-2 record in the league, with Murray State's sweep over the Golden Eagles propelling the Racers (7-1) into first place by percentage points and one fewer loss.
Tech (15-17, 5-5 OVC), meanwhile, stands in seventh place in the standings, with Belmont – one of the Golden Eagles' opponents this weekend – breathing down the Golden Eagles' neck with a 4-6 league record.
JSU split its action over the weekend at Austin Peay as the Gamecocks fell 3-1 in the first game, then took game two 3-0. Jacksonville State's other conference loss came on March 24 at Eastern Kentucky.
The tale of the tape between the Gamecocks and the Golden Eagles is a bit concerning. JSU has outscored its opponents 215-153, the Golden Eagles have been outscored 161-146. Tech has 66 extra-base hits, including 32 doubles, four triples and 30 home runs. Jacksonville State has 99 – 43 doubles, eight triples and 48 home runs. JSU is hitting 45 percentage points better than Tech (.298 to .253) and has a staff ERA nearly a full run lower (3.72 to 4.34).
At the end of the day, however, the numbers can be deceiving. The Golden Eagles have come up with big wins several times against JSU facing worse odds. In the all-time series, the Gamecocks lead 31-22, and JSU has a 5-0 run against Tech since the Golden Eagles made the NCAA Tournament in 2015.
Weather permitting, this will be the first series for Jacksonville State in Cookeville since that 2015 season and Tech took two out of three that year. JSU is 8-8 all-time in Cookeville against the Golden Eagles.
Offensively for Jacksonville State, the Gamecocks have two players with 30 or more RBI with Taylor Beshears (.414) and Anna Chisolm (.347) compiling 61 of the team's 199 total RBI. The duo also has 24 of the team's 48 home runs with 12 each. Chisholm is also a threat to steal as she is 13-for-13 on the basepaths, the team 45-of-50.
In the circle, Faith Sims has been one of the conference's top pitchers, going 15-3 on the season with a 1.91 ERA. In 120 2/3 innings of work, she has allowed 37 walks and struck out 121 with batters hitting .180 against her.
Sims earned a 5-2 win over the Golden Eagles last season, allowing two runs on three hits – a two-run home run for Hallie Davis providing the score – as she walked two and struck out seven.
Nicole Rodriguez has a 5-2 record and a 3.22 ERA in 37 innings pitched, walking 28 and striking out 33. Rodriguez pitched the second game in the twinbill last season at Choccolocco Park. Davis also homered in that game, while Aminah Wood drove in Tech's second run in a 6-2 loss. Rodriguez yielded six hits as she struck out four and walked one.
The Golden Eagles will look to rebound offensively after being shutout in back-to-back games. Beth McCulley leads Tech in batting average with a .390 clip, while Raleigh Lewis (23), Sydney Love-Baker (23) and Gabby LaSala (21) leads the Golden Eagles in RBI. The trio also leads Tech in home runs as Love-Baker has eight, the other two with six.
In the circle, Alyssa Arden took a no-hitter bid into the seventh on Saturday against Murray State, but her effort to become the first Golden Eagle pitcher with three no-hitters in a single season ended there as the Racers tagged her for two hits and an error allowed a single unearned run as Murray walked off in a 1-0 victory.
For the season, Arden is 9-7 with a 3.06 ERA, walking 47 and striking out 78 as opponents are hitting .223. In OVC play alone, Arden is 3-2 with a 2.75 ERA, walking 11 and striking out 24 with opponents hitting .184.