COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Lauren Woodard tossed a two-hit shutout on Saturday afternoon to lead Tennessee State to an Ohio Valley Conference split at Tennessee Tech. The Tigers claimed game two, 3-0, after dropping the opener to the Golden Eagles by an identical, 3-0, score.
Woodard spun a gem as she needed just 66 pitches, 44 for strikes, to sit down TTU. The junior college transfer recorded three-up, three-down innings in the first, second and fifth, while allowing the first runner of the inning to reach in each of the third, fourth, sixth and seventh.
TTU earned hits in the third and fourth and used a hit-by-pitch to reach safely in the sixth. But all three times, the Big Blue defense would retire the next three batters in order.
In the meantime, Hannah Weaver was working her way through the Tiger offense as she was perfect through four innings. With one out in the fifth Cariona Hassell ended the perfect game with a double to left center. Abi Stephens followed with a bunt single to move pinch runner Rea Sylvester to third, but the Tigers first threat of the game was halted.
In the sixth, the Tigers would break through as Courtney Gearlds reached on a one-out single to center and proceeded to steal second and move to third on a wild pitch on consecutive pitches. Danica Gleason would take advantage of the runner 60-feet away, as she drove a ball deep to center, allowing Gearlds to score on a sacrifice fly.
TSU would add to its lead in the seventh with a two out rally. Abi Stevens opened the frame with her team-leading eighth double of the year, but was stranded at second as the next two batters were retired. Erica O’Kane would spark the rally with an infield single moving Stephens to third.
Maddi Clark reentered to run for O’Kane and immediately stole second to give Gearlds an opportunity with two runners in scoring position. The junior came through with a hard shot to second for a single to plate Stephens and then advanced to second on an errant throw. On the play, Clark crossed home plate to give TSU a 3-0 lead.
The bottom of the seventh began with an error, which allowed TSU to flash the leather. Shortstop Lindsey Burgess fielded a ground ball and chose to take it herself, stepping on second and firing to first, to complete the Tigers 18th double play of the season. The stage was set for Woodard who enticed a fly ball out to end the game, giving the junior her second shutout of the season, while improving to 4-18 on the year.
In game one, Tech’s Danielle Liberatore controlled the Tigers from the circle, scattering five hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch while fanning 13 batters on her way to the win, upping her record to 10-11.
The Tigers would put pressure on Liberatore, reaching base in six of the seven innings, but could never seem to find the key hit to scratch a run against the TTU ace. The Tigers would strand 10 runners on base during the opener.
Lauren Powell delivered a solid performance, working the first four innings. Tech used three hits and a Tiger error to push two runs across in the second. The scores were the only ones the Golden Eagles could manage off the Tigers’ freshman pitcher.
Powell (4-10) suffered the loss as she was touched for two earned runs on four hits, two walks and a hit-by-pitch.
Woodard worked the final two innings in relief, giving up a run on six hits.
Hassell led the Tigers offensively notching two hits in each end of the double dip. Gearlds also collected a hit in each game as the centerfielder finished 3-for-7 on the day.
Gleason and Emma Colegrove registered hits in game one, while Lauren Dreitlein and O’Kane each picked up a hit in the late game. Stephens joined Hassell and Gearlds with two hits in the twilight matchup.
The two teams will square off for the rubber match on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at the Tech Softball Field.