RUSTON – Preslee Gallaway and Jenny Chapman combined for Louisiana Tech’s 11th shutout victory of the year as the Lady Techsters defeated Middle Tennessee 4-0 in the first game of a Conference USA doubleheader Saturday.
Tech (22-13, 6-2 C-USA) fell in the second game of the day as Middle Tennessee (11-19, 2-9) used a two-run seventh inning to defeat the Lady Techsters 3-1 for the Saturday split.
Head coach Mark Montgomery utilized 18 of 19 roster players during the Saturday doubleheader, including all four pitchers and 14 of 15 position players.
The rubber game of the series is set for Sunday with the first pitch scheduled for 10 a.m.
Game 1 – LA Tech 4, Middle Tennessee 0
Louisiana Tech jumped out to an early lead plating three runs in the bottom of the first inning and then the Lady Techsters relied on Preslee Gallaway and Jenny Chapman in the circle and some stellar defensive plays in the field in the win.
Jazlyn Crowder doubled to lead off the bottom of the first and after Tori Charters reached on a throwing error by Blue Raiders, Morgan Turkoly hit a deep fly ball to straight away centerfield that Middle Tennessee CF Precious Birdsong made a leaping catch at the fence, robbing Turkoly of a three-run home run. However, Crowder scored on the play giving Tech a 1-0 lead.
Following a walk to Taria Page, Tech executed a double steal as Charters scored to up the advantage to 2-0. Following a single by Pauline Tufi, Marilyn Rizzato laid down a perfect bunt on a suicide squeeze, scoring pinch runner Kimmie Atienza for the third run of the frame.
Tech added a run in the bottom of the third inning on back-to-back doubles by Turkoly and Page, chasing MT starter Megan Chocallo from the game.
With Tech leading 4-0, Gallaway was in cruise control for the majority of the game, striking out six batters while getting some defensive help with a pair of double plays. Gallaway tossed 6.0 strong innings before giving way to Chapman with runners on first and second and no outs in the top of the seventh.
Chapman picked up her second save of the season, retiring three straight batters including a pair of strikeouts.
Offensively, Tech was led by Turkoly (2-2, 2B, run, RBI), Crowder (1-2, 2B, run), Charters (2 SB, run), Page (1-2, 2B, RBI), Tufi (1-3), Rizzato (RBI), and Berkley Calapp (1-2, 2B). Four of Tech’s six hits in the game were doubles while all six of Middle Tennessee’s hits were singles.
Game 2 – Middle Tennessee 3, LA Tech 1
For the second straight game, LA Tech jumped out to a first inning lead but this time Middle Tennessee responded behind a strong pitching performance from Cori Jennings and some timely hitting late in the game.
It appeared as if the Techsters were off and running again when Tori Charters singled and Morgan Turkoly doubled down the left field line to give Tech a 1-0 lead.
However, Jennings then settled down, allowing only two hits and no runs over the final 6.0 innings of action in the circle for the Blue Raiders.
Tech starter Krystal De La Cruz shut out the Blue Raiders over the first four innings, utilizing a pair of double plays and two strikeouts. The sophomore appeared set to work an easy fifth inning retiring the first two batters of the frame, but then the Blue Raiders used a soft line drive single to right field and a bloop double to shallow right center that allowed the tying run to score.
With runners on first and third with two outs, Jenny Chapman came on in relief of De La Cruz and once again got out of the jam with the score tied at 1-1.
Jennings kept Tech without a hit for four innings despite the fact head coach Mark Montgomery used numerous pinch hitters. However, Natalie Moran finally broke the drought lining a single up the middle in the sixth inning and Katie Smith followed with an infield single to put runners on first and second with one out.
Jennings was once again up to the challenge, inducing an infield pop up and a ground ball to end the threat, keeping the score knotted at 1-1.
Middle Tennessee finally broke through against Chapman in the top of the seventh inning, scoring two runs on four singles. Junior Bailey Allen came on in relief with the bases loaded and two outs and induced a ground ball out to end the threat.
The Lady Techsters had one final opportunity in the bottom of the seventh but Jennings set Tech down in order.
The loss is only Tech’s third in 17 home games this season.
Offensively, Tech was led by Charters (1-4, run), Turkoly (1-4, 2B, RBI), Moran (1-1) and Smith (1-2).