HAMMOND, La. – The Tennessee State softball team opened the 2016 season with a run-rule victory, before suffering a loss in the same manner on day one of the Lion Classic.
The Tigers exploded for seven runs in the third inning of the season opener as they earned a 10-2, five inning victory over Mississippi Valley State. In the nightcap, the host Southeastern Louisiana held the Tigers to one hit as they claimed a five-inning, 8-0 victory.
The Tigers open the season 1-1 and were led by centerfielder Courtney Gearlds at the plate. The junior finished 2-for-3 in game one as she hit a triple, scored a run and drove in four runners. In game two, Gearlds collected the only hit of the game and added a walk and a sacrifice on the game.
Transfer Lauren Woodard (1-0) earned the win in her Tiger debut, as she tossed three innings, surrendering a run on four hits and a walk.
TSU opened the day in big fashion as they scored two in the second, seven in the third and capped off with a run in the fourth. Abi Stephens, Joselynn Yates and Kim Trice each recorded doubles to go along with Gearlds’ three-bagger, giving the Tigers four extra base hits on the day.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Yates delivered her double to left center, just missing on a home run, giving the Tigers a runner in scoring position. Later in the stanza, with Yates on third, Savannah Womack earned a walk allowing TSU an opportunity to take advantage of its running game. MVSU was not able to execute a rundown allowing Yates to score and Womack to move to third.
Three batters later, Gearlds drove a ball off the MVSU pitcher for an RBI single, driving home Womack to give TSU a 2-1 lead.
In the third, the Tigers sent 10 batters to the plate and scored seven runs despite only three hits in the inning. Stephens led off with a double into the left field corner and scored three batters later after two walks sandwiched a hit by pitch. Yates would make the score 4-1 as she scampered home on a wild pitch.
The inning continued as Danica Gleason stepped to the plate with bases loaded and one out. The junior drove a ball through the middle of the infield to plate Trice, extending the lead to 5-1 and bringing Gearlds to the plate. The drive to center for the Donelson, Tenn. product cleared the bases, giving the Tigers a commanding 8-1 lead.
Gearlds would cross home plate on the next pitch as Kacey Cox executed the squeeze bunt giving TSU an eight run lead.
MVSU would get a run back in the top of the fourth, but the Tigers responded in the bottom of the inning after Trice doubled to right. The freshman was lifted in favor of pinch runner Kierra Ware who moved to third on a wild pitch. Womack would earn her second walk of the game and set up another first and third opportunity. The Tigers pulled off the double steal and grabbed the 10-2 lead.
In the final game of the day, the Tigers earned walks in each of the first four innings but were not able to convert on the opportunities. Gearlds recorded the lone hit for the Tigers in the top of the fifth inning with two outs.
Lauren Powell was touched up for six runs on eight hits and three walks. The freshman dropped the decision in her collegiate debut.
The Tigers return to the field for day two of the Lion Classic with games versus Buffalo (0-2) and Nicholls State (2-0). TSU faces the Bulls at 10:00 a.m., directly before a date with the Colonels. Live stats can be found on tsutigers.com.
The Tigers wore their White jerseys with Blue pants … With the win over MVSU, the Tigers are now 9-14 all-time in season openers … The win over MVSU gave the Tigers a 3-2 series lead … TSU has never defeated Southeastern Louisiana and are now 0-5 all-time … Courtney Gearlds triple in game one is the eighth over her career, tying her for sixth all-time in TSU history with Cassundra Jo Sharp (2001-02).