TIGERS AND PANTHERS SPLIT OVC DOUBLEHEADER
Nashville, TN--The Tennessee State softball team used ten hits, including four doubles, to run by Eastern Illinois (26-17-1, 8-6) 7-0 in game one of the Ohio Valley Conference series on Friday afternoon. The Panthers would hold on to a hard fought 3-2 decision in game two over the Tigers. TSU (16-25, 2-13) had the perfect combination of pitching and hitting in game one. Junior pitcher Candace Hildebrand (7-9) threw a complete game two-hit shutout with one walk and five strike outs. Hildebrand did not allow a Panther runner to reach second base until the seventh inning with two outs when Rachel Karos advanced from first to third on a Tiger miscue. Hildebrand would then strike out Brittany Castle to end the game. Eight Tiger starters recorded hits led by junior Emily Samana who was a perfect 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI, and two runs scored. Freshman Melanie Cruz would get things started in the fifth inning with a lead-off double to left field. After a Samana single, junior Erin Finneran drove a double to leftcenter to drive in Cruz and Samana and give TSU a 2-0 lead. Senior Nira Robbins closed out the scoring in the fifth with a sacrifice fly to left, which allowed Finneran to score from third. TSU solidified the game with four runs in the sixth. Junior centerfielder Diana Clifford led off the inning with a single up the middle and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Leena Worrell. Hildebrand added to her cause with a single into leftcenter and was lifted for pinch-runner Jessica Sesson. The sophomore from Jackson, TN, stole second base to put runners in scoring position for Samana who hit an RBI single into left to give TSU a 4-0 lead. EIU pitcher Kathleen Jacoby (14-7) was replaced by Ashley Condon after hitting Finneran to load the bases. Senior Amanda Buhler would greet Condon rudely as she laced a double into left center to clear the bases and give the Tigers a commanding 7-0 lead. Game two would see the Panthers jump out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Sandyn Short tripled to right center to plate Katy Steele who led off with a single. Short scored two pitches later on a Lauren Webber wild pitch. Samana scored on a Robbins sacrifice fly to left in the third inning to cut the lead to one, but the Panthers responded with another run in the fourth off a Sarah Copper RBI-double. TSU would threaten again in the bottom of the fifth inning as Buhler scored from second off a single to right by Session. Clifford followed with a walk, but all three runners were stranded as Worrell grounded out to third. TSU loaded the bases again in the sixth off EIU pitcher Karin Mackie (11-9) with singles from Hildebrand and Samna and a Finnegan walk. Mackie would close the door getting Buhler to ground out to short and Robbins to fly out to right. Webber (3-7) took the loss pitching four innings giving up six hits and a walk, while striking out three. Freshman Stephanie Kummel worked the final three innings allowing one hit and a walk. First pitch for the final game of the series is scheduled for 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 15, at Tiger Field.