TUCSON, Ariz. – Tennessee State dropped a pair of games on day one of the Hillenbrand Invitational on Friday. Tigers made a late inning comeback in the first game of the day, but ended up losing a heartbreaker 7-6 in nine innings to Grand Canyon University. In the night cap, No. 4 Alabama scored in each of their first four innings to claim a 12-0 five inning victory over TSU.
The Tigers are now 1-6 on the early season, while the Crimson Tide remains undefeated at 7-0. GCU fell to Alabama immediately after the morning game with TSU to move to 3-5.
In the opener, the Tigers opened fast for the second consecutive game. Tayler Shimizu and Jayna Hanawahine opened the third with back-to-back hits. Hanawahine’s first double of the season moved her fellow Hawaiian to third to set the stage for a big inning. Courtney Gearlds notched the first RBI of her young career with a solid line drive into left, bringing home Shimizu for the first run of the game. After Gearlds picked up her second stolen base of the game, Ashley Haynes delivered a single into left center that plated Hanawahine and Gearlds for a quick 3-0 lead.
Grand Canyon would climb back into the gain, and eventually take the lead, with a run in each, the third and fourth innings, followed by a three-run inning of their own in the fifth. The spurt by the Lopes produced a 5-3 lead into the seventh inning.
The Tigers charged back in the seventh with back-to-back singles by Liz Stansberry and Shimizu. A batter later, Gearlds earned a walk to load the bases for Kate Morris. The Lawrenceburg, Tenn., native came through in the clutch with a double off the left field fence chasing home Stansberry and Shimizu to tie the game at 5-5.
Grand Canyon threatened in the bottom of the eighth inning with bases loaded and no outs, but Shea Morris was able to induce two ground balls and a line drive to exit the inning unharmed.
Kate Morris came through again in the ninth by driving in Hanawahine, who was placed on second for the International Tie-Breaker. The Tigers could only manage one run and led 6-5 heading to the bottom half of the inning.
GCU took advantage of a base hit and a couple TSU throwing errors to push a pair of runs across for the 7-6 win.
In the second game of the twin bill, starter Olivia Gamache went the distance surrendering 12 runs, six earned, on 12 hits and seven walks. The senior collected four strikeouts as she dropped to 0-3.
Sydney Littlejohn (2-0) earned the win allowing just three hits, a walk, and hit a batter while fanning seven. Gearlds picked up the first hit of the game for TSU with a shot up the middle and finished the night with a team leading .381 batting average.
In the fifth inning, Shimizu and Hanawahine recorded hits off the freshman hurler from Alabama. Shimizu was hit by Littlejohn in the second inning and finished the night 1-for-1, 3-for-5 with two runs on the day.
TSU will play a pair of games on day two of the Hillenbrand Invitational. Saturday will start as Friday did, with an 11:00am (MT) game against Grand Canyon. The Tigers will then face #22 Arizona at 4:00pm (MT). All games can be heard at tsutigers.com.