SOFTBALL SPLITS ON OPENING DAY OF TIGER CLASSIC
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A seventh inning comeback by Valparaiso halted Tennessee State from sweeping day one of the Tiger Spring Classic. TSU (1-6) defeated Alabama A&M 3-1 before dropping a 4-3 heartbreaker to the Crusaders.
In the first game, the Tigers scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 2-1 lead. Senior Christy Hill and junior Brittany Webb hit back-to-back singles to put runners on second and third with one out. Hill scored on the next play as freshman Brooke Blackford reached on an error by the Bulldog shortstop. After junior Jalisa Bradley was hit by a pitch to load the bases, freshman Tedra Alford hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Webb and give TSU the lead.
The Tigers would add an insurance run in the seventh when junior Caitlin Eaton hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score senior Tamara Perkins, who had reached on a double and advanced to third on a passed ball. The 3-1 lead was enough for the pitching duo of sophomore Megan Headrick and freshman Natalie Papini.
Headrick (1-3) threw the first five innings surrendering one run on five hits and a walk. In the process she was able to fan eight A&M batters. Papini earned her first career save throwing the final two innings giving up two hits and striking out three.
The second game saw the Tigers score first with a two-out rally in the bottom of the second inning. With Bradley on third and Alford on second after back-to-back singles junior Jill Gardner hit a solid ball up the middle to the Valparaiso second baseman who was unable to come up with the ball cleanly. Bradley would score to make the score 1-0, but Alford was caught in a run down between third and home to end the inning.
TSU put up another run in their next at bat as senior Bridget Metzger hit a one-out double to leftfield and scampered to third as the ball got away from the shortstop on the throw in form the outfield. Two batters later Webb would drive Metzger in with a double to left center and a 2-0 lead.
The Crusaders would manufacture a run in the fourth to cut the lead to 2-1, but TSU would answer in the sixth. Webb picked up her second hit of the game and was replaced by sophomore pinch-runner Kara Murr. Eaton followed with a double to left center to give the Tigers runners on second and third. Murr then scored as Hill hit a sharp ground ball beyond the reach of the third baseman to open the lead to 3-1.
Valparaiso would then open with back-to-back singles in the seventh off Eaton. The junior hurler would get the next two batters before giving up an RBI single to cut the lead to 3-2. After a double steal to put runners on second and third, Jill Jacobson hit a ball down the leftfield line. Sophomore Jennifer Culberson extended herself to try and make a diving catch to preserve the win, but the ball would get by and roll all the way to the fence for a triple and allowing both Crusader runners to score and a 4-3 lead.
Kelly Troglin tried to bring the Tigers back with a one-out single to center in the last frame, but the sophomore was stranded at first as the next two batters each fouled out to end the game. Eaton (0-1) pitched a complete game giving up eight hits, while striking out five.
The Tiger Classic concludes on Sunday at Tiger Field with Indiana State vs Valparaiso at 9:30 am followed by Alabama A&M and Valparaiso at 11:45 pm. TSU closes out play with Indiana State at 2 pm and Alabama A&M at 4:15 pm. Admission to all games are free.
Day One Scores
Indiana State 6, Valparaiso 3
Tennessee State 3, Alabama A&M 1
Valparaiso 4, Tennessee State 3
Indiana State 10, Alabama A&M 5