@LATechSB Sweeps C-USA Doubleheader at Middle Tennessee
March 10, 2018
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Louisiana Tech's tough non-conference schedule paid dividends for the Lady Techsters during the first day of the Conference USA season as the Lady Techsters swept a doubleheader from Middle Tennessee 2-1 and 7-1 at Blue Raiders Softball Field Saturday.
Tech (12-12, 2-0 C-USA) got two solid pitching performances from its all-conference arms in juniors Preslee Gallaway and Krystal De La Cruz in the wins, defeating a Middle Tennessee team twice that had won 15 of its last 17 games entering the day.
"I think you saw a team today that didn't waiver at any point, even when trailing 1-0 late in the first game," said Tech head coach Mark Montgomery. "When you play LSU and Texas A&M to one-run games and you have faced the tough teams and environments in the non-conference slate that we have, it prepares you for anything. I am proud of how we played today. We stood tall and made plays offensively, defensively and in the circle when we needed to in order to win both of these games."
Tech and Middle Tennessee (16-8, 0-2) will complete the three-game series Sunday although the first pitch of the series finale has been moved up to 11 a.m. due to the weather forecast.
Game 1: LA Tech 2, Middle Tennessee 1
Preslee Gallaway (6-4) scattered nine hits over seven strong innings and Louisiana Tech scored runs in the sixth and seventh innings to record the 2-1 come-from-behind victory in the first game of the day.
Gallaway allowed a solo home run off the bat of Lexi Cushing in the bottom of the fourth inning as Middle Tennessee took a 1-0 lead.
Blue Raiders starter Amber Baldwin pitched five strong innings of her own, allowing only three hits and keeping LA Tech off the scoreboard. However, Baldwin was pulled to start the sixth inning and MT reliever Gretchen Greer proceeded to walk the first two batters she faced in Morgan Turkoly and Katie Smith.
Taria Page then greeted Pattie Ruth Taylor with an RBI single up the middle scoring Turkoly and tying the game at 1-1. Sloane Stewartson then followed with a line drive single to centerfield, but MT outfielder Precious Birdsong threw out Smith on a controversial play at the plate where the home plate umpire said Smith failed to touch the plate.
Cori Jennings would get the final two outs of the inning to keep the game tied at 1-1.
Freshman Bayli Simon led off the top of the seventh inning with a line drive double to the left centerfield wall and moved to third on a successful sac bunt by Karlee Jensen. Crowder and Turkoly then drew walks to load the bases with one out.
Smith followed with a soft ground to shortstop and Simon was called safe at home on another controversial call, giving the Lady Techsters the 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Gallaway allowed a two-out single to Summer Burgess before inducing a game-ending ground ball to shortstop by Birdsong.
Turkoly (1-1, run, 3 walks, SB), Smith (1-3, RBI, SB), Page (1-4, RBI), Stewartson (1-3), Marilyn Rizzato (1-3), Simon (1-3, run), Crowder (SB), and Emily Daniel (SB) all helped the offensive cause. Rizzato threw out Birdsong trying to steal in the third inning, marking the first time in 12 tries that the speedy MT centerfielder has been caught this year. Rizzato has now thrown out eight out of 12 attempts this season.
Game 2: LA Tech 7, Middle Tennessee 1
Tech got to MT starter Gretchen Greer early as Jazlyn Crowder singled and Morgan Turkoly walked to start the top of the first inning. After a sac bunt by Katie Smith moved the runners to second and third, Page was green lighted on the 3-0 pitch and drove a Greer fast ball deep over the centerfield wall for a 3-0 Techster lead.
The Lady Techsters added to that lead in the top of the third inning, plating three more runs. Turkoly doubled to lead the inning off but then was thrown out at home on a fielder's choice ground ball off the bat of Page. Stewartson then drew a walk with two outs. Atienza then lined a triple to the right centerfield gap, plating both Page and Stewartson and upping the advantage to 5-0. Atienza scored on a wild pitch for the final run of the inning.
Krystal De La Cruz was solid in the circle. De La Cruz (1-5) struck out the first two batters of the game and cruised through 5.0 innings, allowing only one run on four hits and one walk with a season-high five strikeouts.
Tech added an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning. Rizzato led the frame off with a double to straight away centerfield and scored on Karlee Jensen's double down the left field line, making the score 7-1.
Freshman Jensen Howell came on in relief of De La Cruz to start the sixth and allowed a one out single and a walk before. However, a ground out to catcher was the second out and then Rizzato picked off MT infielder Claire Smith at second base for the final out. It was Rizzato's third pickoff of the season, tying her for the C-USA lead.
Tech left the bases loaded in the seventh but it wouldn't matter as Howell work a clean bottom of the frame, including striking out both Burgess and Birdsong to end the game.
Offensively, Tech was led by Turkoly (2-3, double, run), Crowder (1-4, run, SB), Page (1-4, 2 runs, 3 RBI), Stewartson (1-2, run), Atienza (1-4, run, 2 RBI), Simon (2-4, double), Rizzato (1-3, run, SB), and Jensen (2-4, double, RBI).
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