Decker notches 2 solo homers in Southern’s 11-2 win over UT Martin

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Decker notches 2 solo homers in Southern’s 11-2 win over UT Martin

John Lock/Saluki Athletics

John Lock/Saluki Athletics

John Lock/Saluki Athletics

By Tamar Mosby, Sports Reporter

Early this evening the Salukis took on the University of Tennessee Martin Skyhawks winning the game 11-7 in six innings.

This game marked the 22nd meeting of the two teams with Southern now leading UT Martin 16-6 in the all time series.

The Skyhawks kicked off the first inning with two hits, but they were unable to convert them into runs due to the Dawgs’ tough defense at home plate.

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“Playing a mid week game is way better than practice,” said Saluki head coach Kerri Blaylock. “I think great defense got us through the first inning then our batters took over from there.”

SIU then went up to bat but unfortunately earned three consecutive outs and sent the game into the second inning.

In the second inning, the Skyhawks (21-11) were forced into three quick outs and this sent the Salukis to the plate to bat.

At the plate the Dawgs racked up two hits and a walk resulted in a run. After this run, junior Kyleigh Decker sent a ball over the right field wall to notch a solo homer and two RBIs. After two more outs were given to Southern on a foul out and a ground out, the game was sent into the third inning with the score at 4-0.

“Kyleigh has been much more confident at the plate this year,” Blaylock said. “Her average is up now and she has a lot of power.”

Neither team earned any hits or runs in the third inning and the scored remained 4-0 entering the fourth.

After forcing the Skyhawks into three consecutive outs in the fourth inning, the Salukis went up to bat. Decker was the first batter up for SIU and she lit up the field again sending another pitch out of the park to mark her second homer of the game.

“I knew that she wasn’t going to pitch me outside, so she was either going to throw inside or the change up and I took my bets on the change up and it went out of the park,” Decker said.

Decker’s homer pushed the score to 5-0.

As UT Martin went up to bat in the top of the fifth, the Salukis still held a commanding 5-0 lead over their opponents until the Skyhawks smacked one out of the park with a runner on base to push the score to 5-2. Before Tennessee Martin could score again, the Dawgs were able to force three outs to return to the dugout for batting.

The Dawgs earned two outs quickly on their turn to bat and there seemed to be no hope of scoring until junior Megan Brown reached first on a walk pushing her teammate Jenny Jansen, who reached first earlier on a single, to second.

The momentum increased when Nicole Johnson came up to bat and kept Southern alive hitting a short ball scrambled the defense and allowed Jansen to steal home. After this play, SIU ended their batting in the fifth inning on a fly-out.

“We have a loaded batting line up,” Decker said. “We have people who can hit in so many different spots, so it doesn’t matter where you put us because we’re going to hit the ball and hit it hard.”

The Skyhawks went scoreless and hitless in the top of the sixth inning allowing the Salukis to return to their batting lineup rather quickly.

Two walks and one hit by Southern in the bottom of the sixth loaded the bases. Another walk was given to the Dawgs as Ashley Wood was hit by a pitch. Wood’s walk plated her teammate Sidney Sikes and extended the SIU lead to 7-2.

With just one out, Katelyn Massa slugged a grand slam over the left field wall and shot the score up to 11-2, promptly ending the game at six innings.

“Jen Sewell does a terrific job with our hitters and it shows,” Blaylock said.

After winning tonight’s game the Dawgs are now on a five game win streak with their last loss being to Drake University earlier this month.

“I think we’re on a roll and that we need to keep it going. We have a good chance of winning a regional and a conference championship, but we’re taking it one game at a time,” Decker said. “We know that we’ve faced some of the best in the conference with Drake and MSU, so now we’re just coasting and trying to get each win that we can.”

The Salukis (17-9, MVC 5-3) will take the field again in Normal, Illinois as they take on the Illinois State University Redbirds in a three game series – the first game of series will be played at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday.

“We’re going into Illinois State to play a good squad and they’ve won five in a row,” Blaylock said. “We’re just focusing on playing the next game.”

Sports reporter Tamar Mosby can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @mosbytamar.

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