Irondale, Ala. - The word of the final day of the Tiny Lassiter HBCU Classic was comeback. Tennessee State trailed in both games before making late inning comebacks to grab two more victories. TSU earned a hard fought 2-1 win over Hampton (8-11) in the opener and used a big sixth inning to defeat South Carolina State (9-6) 6-2 in the finale. The Tigers finished the weekend with a 4-1 record and improved to 5-11 on the season.
The first game began with a solo home run on the very first pitch. Margaret Wilkins drove a Shea Morris offering over the centerfield fence to give Hampton a quick 1-0 lead. Morris responded by fanning the next three batters to end the first inning. The sophomore pitcher would buckle down and not allow another hit the rest of the way. Morris improved to 3-6 and recorded nine strikeouts, three walks and a hit-by-pitch.
In the fifth inning trailing 1-0, Lindsey Burgess led off with a double to centerfield and moved to third on a Kacie Daugherty sacrifice bunt. Tayler Shimizu stepped to the plate and hit a high fly ball to right field that scored Burgess without a throw to even the score at 1-1.
The score remained tied as the Tigers headed into their final at bat. Daugherty was issued a one out walk and set the stage for Shimizu once again. The sophomore outfielder dropped a bunt in front of the pitching circle and forced an errant throw that made its way down the right field line. Daugherty would make it all the way around the bases giving TSU the 2-1 win.
In game two, South Carolina State came out swinging collecting eight hits in the first four innings off of Olivia Gamache. The sophomore hurler limited SCSU to an unearned run in the first and an earned run in the third to take a 2-0 advantage.
The Tigers started their comeback in the fourth inning as Burgess ripped her fifth double of the season to centerfield chasing Jayna Hanawahine, who reached on a walk, home all the way from first. After Daugherty moved Burgess to third on a sacrifice bunt, Kate Morris hit a sacrifice fly to center to plate Burgess tying the game at 2-2.
TSU threatened in the fifth by loading the bases for Burgess. The freshman drove a ball to left field in what seemed to be her second consecutive double and clearing the bases to give the Tigers the lead. Bulldog left fielder Jasmine Greer chased down the potential tiebreaker as she ran into the fence. Greer bounced off the fence but was able to hold on and end the Tiger threat.
In the sixth, Coach Dabney's young squad picked up where they left off in the fifth with a single by Daugherty and a double by (Kate) Morris. Shimizu came up in the same situation as in the first game and, as in the opener, delivered a sacrifice fly ball to center giving TSU a one run lead as Daugherty crossed home plate.
The flood gates opened as Jennifer Givens produced an RBI single and Audrey Sensing drove in two more two batters later producing the 6-2 final score.
Gamache retired 11 of the final 12 batters she faced, one reaching by error, and earned the win improving to 2-5. The Exeter, R.I., product struck out six batters, tying her career high, and did not allow a walk.
On the weekend, Givens was 11-for-16 (.688) and scored three runs and drove in five from the lead-off spot. Freshman Kiarra Freeman batted .529 (9-for-17) with two runs scored, while Sensing was 8-for-17 (.471) with a double, two home runs, four runs and seven RBI.
In the circle, Gamache was 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA and (Shea) Morris finished 3-0 with a 0.37 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched. Morris surrendered just nine hits and held opponents to a .134 batting average.
The Tigers return home to host the six-team, three-day Tiger Classic. The field consists of Alabama State, Mississippi Valley State, Saint Louis, Nebraska-Omaha and Indiana. Five games will be played on Friday, with the first game beginning at 10 am. Saturday will be the largest day of competition with six games, with the first scheduled for 9:30 am. The final day of the classic will feature four games, again beginning at 9:30 am.
TSU will play their first game versus Saint Louis on Friday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 4 pm. The complete schedule can be found on the Tournament Central page on tsutigers.com. All of the Tigers games can be heard live on tsutigers.com.
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