JACKSON, Miss. --- Tennessee State used the long ball to earn a split on the second day of the Jackson State Tournament. The Tigers used home runs from Megan Huppee and Whitney Ennis to defeat the host Tigers 8-5 after dropping a five-inning contest to Ohio Valley Conference for, Southeast Missouri, 9-1 on Saturday morning. TSU is now 2-1 to open the 2017 season.
In the nightcap, Huppee capped off a five-run first inning with a towering blast over the fence in left that also brought home Danica Gleason. The inning began with Selena Crafton singling to center and stealing second two pitches later. On the steal, the Jackson State catcher errantly threw the ball into left center allowing Crafton to score.
Courtney Gearlds reached on the second error of the inning by JSU and then stole second for her third swipe of the young season. Sarah Snell and Danica Gleason followed with back-to-back doubles, giving TSU an early 3-0 lead before Huppee’s bomb.
The Tigers were held to two hits through the next five innings, while JSU mounted a comeback with four runs in the third and the equalizer in the bottom of the fifth.
In the top of the seventh with the score knotted at 5-5, Gleason reached on a fielder’s choice and moved into scoring position with a stolen base. Two batters later, Maggie Syversen drove a ball up the middle chasing home Gleason to take a 6-5 advantage. The hit was the first of the career for Syversen after being denied in the third inning when JSU leftfielder Sierra Smith made a spectacular diving catch just inside the foul line.
Pinch runner Kierra Ware would score three pitches later as Ennis lifted a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left making the score 8-5. The dinger was the first in the collegiate career for the junior who is in her second season in a Tiger uniform.
Tori Hart (1-0) entered the circle in the third inning in relief of starter Lauren Woodard and held JSU at bay to earn her first career win. The freshman hurler tossed the final 4.1 innings, allowing two hits, five walks, no earned runs and struck out five.
Snell led the Tigers at the plate with a pair of doubles and finished 3-for-3 with a walk.
Southeast Missouri jumped out to a fast start in the first game of the day with a double and a home run on the first two pitches thrown by Tiger starter, Erica O’Kane (0-1). The Redhawks would add two more runs in the first inning, chasing O’Kane from the game.
TSU tried to get back into the contest in the second inning as Gleason opened the frame with a double to right center. Two batters later, Gleason moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Amanda Cabrera, who entered in place of O’Kane in the circle.
Emma Colegrove would make the sacrifice pay off with a single to center plating Gleason. TSU cut the lead to 5-1 and tried to add to the comeback by loading the bases in the third with one out. But SEMO would end the Tigers threat and went on to add two runs of their own in the fourth off Cabrera and three in the fifth off Lauren Powell for the 9-1 advantage.
TSU will close out the tournament with a rematch with the host, Jackson State, on Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m.