STATESBORO, Ga. – A tale of two games describes the day for Tennessee State softball on day two of the Eagle Classic. The Tigers were no-hit in a 7-0 loss to Troy to open Saturday’s play, but bounced back to grab a 7-1 win over Middle Tennessee. The Trojans improved to 8-8-2, the Blue Raiders fell to 5-14 and the Tigers are now 5-13.
Middle Tennessee tried to add to TSU’s misery by jumping out to a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Shea Morris walked leadoff hitter LaRi Mitchell to start the game. Mitchell stole second and scored on a single off the bat of Kayla Toney. Two batters later, Morris issued another walk to give MTSU two runners on and one out. The junior hurler settled in by striking out the next batter she would face.
The punch out by Morris moved her into the top spot of the TSU career strikeout list. Morris passed Amanda Vaught, who completed her Tiger career in 2008.
The Lawrenceburg, Tenn., native would retire the next 14 Blue Raiders allowing the offense a chance to take control of the game. The streak was erased by Toney who ripped a double into right center with one out in the sixth. Morris retired the next two to end any threat.
Morris’ twin sister, Kate Morris, would be the first Tiger to scratch a hit on the day with a single into center to leadoff the second inning. Two batters later, with Kate on third, Kiarra Freeman hit a hard grounder to short for an RBI single, evening the score at 1-1. Tayler Shimizu followed with a ground ball up the middle; Freeman did not break stride rounding second and forced the play at third. Freeman slid in safely as the ball would get away, allowing the speedy sophomore a chance to charge home giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
TSU would not look back as they added two runs in each, the third and fourth innings. With one out in the third, the Tigers would string three hits together to take a 4-1 lead. Kate Morris delivered a two-run single to center to plate Courtney Gearlds and Lindsey Burgess.
In the fourth, TSU loaded the base on a single by Freeman, a hit-by-pitch of Shimizu and a sacrifice bunt, fielder’s choice by Liz Stansberry. Jayna Hanawahine wasted no time as she ripped the first pitch she saw up the middle to chase home Freeman and Shimizu, making the score 6-1.
The Tigers added a single run in the fifth to provide the margin. Shea Morris and Freeman sandwiched hits around Rebekka Gross getting plunked to load the bases. Stansberry followed two batters later with a walk to force home Gross.
Freeman finished the game 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI, while Kate Morris was 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI.
Hanawahine, Gearlds and Burgess all ended the game 1-for-4. Shimizu went 1-for-2 with a run scored and Shea Morris was 1-for-3 at the plate. Morris earned the win and improved to 4-6 allowing three hits, while fanning four.
In the first game of the day, the Tigers could only manage two runners on base against pitcher Jaycee Affeldt. Shimizu was the first to reach base with a walk to open the third inning, while Burgess reached on an error two innings later. Affeldt (3-5) finished the game with eight strikeouts.
Olivia Gamache (1-6) took the loss as she surrendered five runs, four earned, on three hits and four walks. Gamache finished with two strikeouts and made way for Hannah St. Clair who pitched the final two innings. St. Clair allowed two runs on two hits and fanned one.
The Eagle Classic wraps up on Sunday with the Tigers playing in the final two games. TSU will take on Middle Tennessee at 12:00pm ET and Georgia Southern at 2:00pm ET. Both games can be heard on tsutigers.com.