SOFTBALL RALLIES TO SPLIT DOUBLEHEADER WITH BELMONT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tennessee State softball team travelled across town on Tuesday afternoon determined to break its recent losing streak before returning to Ohio Valley Conference play. After narrowly dropping the opening contest to the Bruins of Belmont, 1-0, the Tigers rebounded to take the nightcap, 4-3. The first half of game one saw the Tigers collect two hits (juniors Caryn Barber and Tarah Evanisko) but were unable to move the players around the bases to score. The teams remained scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning when Belmont's Jess Seymore started the Bruin rally with a double down the left field line. A single by Amber Brown sent Seymore over the plate to make the score 1-0. Tennessee State opened the nightcap with back to back doubles by Barber (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and senior Catriona Smith (Marion, N.C.) but was only able to convert one of them into runs. In the top of the third, the Tigers notched back to back doubles again, this time by senior Shannon Hicks (Smyrna, Tenn.) and freshman Laura Freeman (Nashville, Tenn.) after a single by rookie Hollie Sanders (Columbia, Tenn.) started a rally. A short single to right by freshman Nitisha McWherter (Paris, Tenn.) sent Hicks home and moved Freeman to third. McWherter attempted to take an extra base and got caught in a rundown between first and second while Freeman snuck home to make the score, 4-0 in favor of the Tigers. The Bruins answered back in the bottom of the third when leadoff batter Jennifer Batte smashed a homerun to finally get Belmont on the board. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Belmont picked up another run to move within two of the hot-swinging Tigers. Tennessee State just needed to hold the Bruins for three more innings to pick up the win, Belmont made one final effort to sweep the Tigers in the bottom of the seventh inning. A double by Julie Castelli with one out started a pivotal rally. The next batter, LeAnna Crandall, singled and both runners moved ahead. With the tying run on second base, a costly wild pitch sent one runner home making the score, 4-3. Tennessee State made a pitching change, sending Hicks into the circle. She struck out the next batter and though the Bruins moved around the bases after a wild pitch, quick thinking by the Tigers prevented another run being scored. Finally with two outs on the board, Hicks won the battle on the mound with the final batter grounding out to the shortstop to give Tennessee State the 4-3 win. Game two saw Freeman go 3 for 4, including her first collegiate double, with one run. Smith also collected her first double of the season in the nightcap. The Tigers return to action on Wednesday as they host Chattanooga at Tiger Field. The first pitch is set for 4 p.m.