Softball takes down Troy, tussles with Tigers

Fifth-year pitcher Chandler Dennis pitches against the Louisiana Tech University Bulldogs, going for four innings. // Photo by Knox Lingenfelter Student Publications

After suffering two losses to close out their conference series against the Syracuse Orange, the Jackets needed a bounce-back performance. They began their week in a home matchup against the Troy Trojans. The Trojans were coming off of a stretch where they had won four out of their last five games and were gaining momentum. 

Tech got off to the exact start they needed to have — at the plate. Led by a home run from senior Mallorie Black, the Jackets took a quick 4-0 lead after the first inning. However, the Trojans did not relent. 

After a five-run second inning and a three-run third inning, Troy took control of the game as the Jackets struggled to get batters out
and limit baserunners. This team has been one of the best offensive teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) under head coach Aileen Morales and showed they had the firepower needed to mount a comeback. They sent two runs flying over the wall home in the fifth inning and racked up another six runs in the sixth inning. Defensively, the Jackets tightened up and only yielded another run after their initial struggles.

Tech ended with a 14-9 win. 

In the comeback win, the Jackets hit three home runs marking the 13th time this season they have hit at least three home runs. The trifecta of home runs marked 64 home runs on the year setting a record for the most under Morales and sixth-most in program history. Junior Madison Dobbins led the way on offense, ending the game with 47 runs batted in (RBI). This gave her the highest RBI count in the ACC and the fifth-most in the nation. 

After the win, Tech was looking to keep the wins coming as they headed on the road to take on the Auburn Tigers. For the second time in the week, Black hit a home run in the first inning. Her home run tied her with Dobbins with 13 home runs apiece. The Jackets built a 3-0 lead after the first inning and played a strong defensive game, holding the Tigers scoreless through the first five innings. 

However, facing a three-run deficit, Auburn brought in four runs to take a 4-3 lead after the penultimate inning. Tech could not score any runs in the final inning. After leading for the majority of the game, the Jackets lost 4-3. While it was certainly a disappointing loss, they needed to rebound and take care of business in their upcoming doubleheader. 

The first game of the doubleheader was against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Entering the third inning, Tech was facing a 2-0 deficit. Sophomore Reese Hunter’s home run gave them a 3-2 lead. However, a torrid Louisiana Tech offense piled on 11 runs in the fifth and sixth to take a commanding 13-3 lead. At this point, the game seemed hopelessly out of reach. The Jackets, however, had other ideas. The comeback bid was led by Black as she knocked in a three-run home run in the sixth inning to cut the deficit down to seven. Tech kept the Bulldogs scoreless in the seventh inning. Black hit a grand slam to turn a once 13-3 deficit into a 13-10 game. The comeback attempt fell short as the Jackets lost 13-10. 

After back-to-back heartbreaking losses, Tech matched back up against Auburn for the second game of the doubleheader. In the second inning, the Jackets jumped out to an early 5-0 lead. The Tigers did not back down  as they combined to score three runs in the second and third innings to make it a 5-3 game. Tech responded with three runs of their own in the top of the fourth inning to regain a five-run lead, 8-5. Auburn would go on to combine for three runs again in the fourth and fifth innings and cut the deficit to an 8-6 game. In the sixth inning, senior Sara Beth Allen hit her third home run of the game to put the Jackets up 10-6. Allen’s home run put her in special company as only the fourth player in school history to hit three home runs in a single game. 

Auburn added one run in the sixth inning and made it a three-score game. The Jackets were held scoreless in the seventh and final inning and gave the Tigers the bats back with the score 10-7. Auburn only had one out before making it a 10-8 game. Senior Jin Sileo’s strong defensive plays ended the comeback bid from Auburn and gave Tech a 10-9 win. This is the Jackets’ first win at Auburn since 2002. A powerful offensive hitting day brought Tech’s home run total to 72, the fifth-most in program history. On the defensive side, they had their 21st inning-ending double-play,
which leads the ACC. 

Despite the losses to Louisiana Tech and Auburn, this is still one of the most complete teams in the ACC and can make real noise in the conference. Tech looks to take the lessons learned from this week into a game against Alabama State on April 9 before hosting the Louisville Cardinals in a conference series.