NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the second consecutive day, the Tigers found themselves on the wrong end of a pair of pitching duels to an Ohio Valley Conference power. Tennessee State lost 1-0 and 2-0 on Saturday at Tiger Field to defending OVC regular season champion, Eastern Illinois. The Panthers (34-11, 14-4) spoiled the festivities of senior day, as Olivia Gamache and Ashley Haynes played their last home games for TSU (16-34, 4-16).
EIU picked up back-to-back hits against Gamache to start the game, but the senior pitcher responded with back-to-back strikeouts. Reynae Hutchinson would strike for EIU as she hit a 2-2 pitch down the third base line that just hopped over the backhand attempt by Liz Stansberry. The hit gave the Panthers an opportunity to take a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers would get runners on in five of the seven innings, but could not push a runner across home plate against Panther starter, Hanna Mennenga. The senior EIU pitcher scattered five hits and a walk, while striking out nine as she improved to 18-4.
TSU had issues with Mennenga early on, fanning eight times in the first three innings, but could not piece together their adjustments to dent the scoreboard. Haynes finished 2-for-3 and was joined in the hit department by Lindsey Burgess, Kate Morris and Tayler Shimizu. Burgess earned her eighth double of the season.
Gamache (4-12) took the loss as she worked four innings and was touched for five hits, three in the first. The senior hurler walked two and struck out four. Shea Morris tossed the other three innings, surrendering one hit and fanning five.
Five innings of scoreless ball opened the night cap. Gamache threw the first two innings giving up a hit and a walk, before making way for Hannah St. Clair. The freshman worked the next three innings, scattering two hits and sitting down two via the punch out.
Stephanie Maday matched the Tigers staff as she allowed singles to Haynes and Kiarra Freeman, and a walk to Shea Morris.
Morris entered to pitch the sixth inning for TSU. A Tiger miscue gave the Panthers a runner on second with one out. Bailey O’Dell followed with a single into center on a 0-2 pitch to give Hannah Cole an opportunity to score. Freeman came up firing, throwing a strike to Bekka Gross at home plate ahead of the runner. Cole was determined safe despite appeals.
EIU, taking advantage of two errors by TSU, would tack on another run in the seventh off Gamache. The Exeter, R.I. native concluded her home career with a strikeout.
The loss was credited to Morris (9-12) who gave up the unearned run in the sixth.
The Tigers would receive hits from Freeman, in the sixth, and Gross, in the seventh, but Maday would work herself out of trouble. The EIU pitcher improved to 15-5 as she collected seven strikeouts.
TSU will travel to Morehead State for a three-game series starting on Apr. 26.