SOFTBALL'S WIN STREAK HALTED AT TWO; SPLIT DOUBLEHEADER WITH EASTERN ILLINOIS
NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State softball team (16-37, 5-17 OVC) picked up its fifth Ohio Valley Conference win of the season on Saturday afternoon at Tiger Field. The Tigers defeated the visiting Panthers of Eastern Illinois (19-32, 7-15 OVC), 8-5, in the opener and dropped the nightcap, 5-0. In game one, the Panthers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after the first half inning of play. The Tigers answered back in the bottom half of the inning, recording three runs. Senior Shannon Hicks (Smyrna, Tenn.) got thing started for Tennessee State with a single to right center. She was followed by classmate Catriona Smith (Marion, N.C.), who reached first with a base on balls. A single deep to center field by rookie Hollie Sanders (Columbia, Tenn.) sent both Hicks and Smith home before a throwing error by the Panthers' catcher allowed her to pick up her third RBI. The Tigers would hold onto their slim 3-2 lead for the next four innings. In the top of the sixth, Sandy Short singled to right center and was sent over the plate with a double by Cassandra North. With the game knotted at three, Tennessee State eagerly looked for its chance to move ahead for good. The Tigers wouldn't have to wait very long when Sanders knocked her third single of the day. Sophomore Joy Thompson (Blytheville, Ark.), who pinch ran for Sanders, picked up an extra base after a wild pitch. Classmate Misty Adfield (Twin Falls, Idaho) was the next Tiger to get on base after a slow throw resulted in an unsuccessful pickoff. After stealing second, Adfield set the stage for a scoring bonanza. A single deep to center by freshman Laura Freeman (Nashville, Tenn.) with another botched Panther throw, helped her to collect two RBI. A pitching change by the Panthers could not halt Tennessee State's scoring as the first batter, sophomore Amanda Buhler (Twin Falls, Idaho) singled and stole an extra base. Senior Alana Thomas (Bristol, Va.) followed suit, sending a single to the secondbaseman and stealing an extra base. Rookie Nitisha McWherter (Paris, Tenn.) smashed her first collegiate double and collected two RBI before the Tigers' half of the inning ended. Despite recorded three hits at the top of the seventh inning, Eastern Illinois was only able to convert two of those into runs and fell,8-5, to Tennessee State. However, the Panthers would not be denied in game two as they opened the nightcap with four runs on three hits in the top of the first. Tennessee State attempted to answer back in the bottom of the fourth inning with Adfield, Buhler and Thomas all notching singles but was unable to convert them into runs. In the top of the sixth, the Panthers collected one more run and held on for the 5-0 win. Tennessee State returns to action on Sunday, May 2 at 1 p.m., taking on Eastern Illinois in the final contest of the three-game set. The Tigers will take time to say thank you to their three seniors -- Shannon Hicks, Catriona Smith and Alana Thomas -- prior to action getting underway.