The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team proved that its bats were packed when taking on Belmont, picking up a pair of victories behind 17 runs to earn the squad’s first Ohio Valley Conference sweep with 9-3 and 8-3 victories.
The Skyhawks (18-16, 6-5 OVC) strung together 18 hits on the day while tallying four home runs to bypass the host Bruins. Senior Kenzi Tate led the team offensively with a 6-for-7 outing, finishing the day with a .857 batting average while tallying a double, a home run and three RBIs. Fellow senior Lauren Smith made the most of her pair of starts, tallying one home run and five RBIs on the day. Joining the senior duo was freshman Jodie Duncan who tallied four hits – including a home run and five RBIs.
Both pitchers were solid as well for the Skyhawk inside the circle, finding victories from the duo of Elizabeth Wiegand and Casey Vincent on the day. Wiegand tossed seven innings while allowing eight hits and three earned runs. Vincent tossed five innings while allowing nine hits and three earned runs despite tallying four strikeouts.
Game 1: UT Martin 9, Belmont 3
UT Martin would bust out of the gates in the opening inning of the contest. Faced with two outs, the Skyhawks would tally back-to-back walks before Lauren Smith sailed a double to left center, bringing around a pair of runners to take an early 2-0 lead.
The Skyhawks would strike again in the top of the third with some familiar two-out magic. Following a pair of outs to start the inning, Tate would single to right center while Alicia Hansen tallied her second walk of the contest to put runners on first and second. Much like the first inning, Lauren Smith would empty the bases once again, this time with a three-run home run to right center.
Belmont would look to find its own type of leverage in the bottom half of the third. Faced with two outs of their own, the Bruins would find back-to-back singles to bring their first run across the plate. Another double by Kat Hollingsworth followed by a single from Chelsey Deloney brought the game to a 5-3 margin.
The Skyhawks would attempt to push the game back out to a three run margin in the top of the sixth inning.
Freshman Duncan would tally a double to right center to score pinch runner Chelsey Smith from second, giving the visitors a 6-3 lead.
The visitors would tally the knockout punch in the top of the seventh inning, putting zero doubt in the final outcome of the contest with a three-run inning. With runners on second and third, Vincent would tally a pinch-hit two-run single to left center before Duncan would strike again for her second RBI of the contest with a single to left, giving the Skyhawks their ninth and final run.
Game 2: UT Martin 8, Belmont 3 (Six innings)
Much like in Game 1, the Skyhawks would look to get on the board first in the opening inning of the second contest. Carly Gonzales would lead off the game with a single to left before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt and moving into scoring position for Tate. Tate would come through in the inning with a double to right, giving the Skyhawks a 1-0 advantage.
Belmont would strike back in the bottom of the first, taking its first lead of the game with a three run inning. Three consecutive base hits would score a run before Amy Zeronian notched the Bruins big hit of the inning with a single to center, scoring a pair of runs to take a 3-1 lead.
UT Martin would use the top of the second inning to get back in the driver’s seat as Duncan led off the inning with a opposite field home run to right. With the bases loaded and just one out, Tate would single to first, bringing Savannah Dodson in to score the second run of the inning. The Skyhawks would follow up the play with a RBI groundout from Hansen to cap off the scoring threat and retaking a 4-3 lead.
The visitors would tack on another run in the top of the fourth inning. Consecutive singles from Samantha McClure and Tate along with a walk to Lauren Smith would load the bases with just one out. Duncan would continue her hot day with a single to right, bringing pinch runner Bella Zizzi in to score the team’s fifth run of the contest.
A powerful fifth inning would cap off the scoring for both teams as the Skyhawks put the game out of reach before the rain came calling. With two outs, McClure would tally her first home run of the season with a solo blast to center. The Skyhawks would keep the train rolling with a back-to-back home run from Tate to center before three consecutive walks later in the inning brought the eighth and final run across the plate.
UT Martin will make the short trek across Nashville for its next conference matchup with a doubleheader at Tennessee State on Saturday, March 4. Action against the Tigers is scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m.