Despite their long layoff between contests, the Trojans picked up right where they left off on Friday afternoon, collecting a pair of wins on the first day of the Bear Creek Tournament in Oneida, Tennessee. RV Taylor defeated RV Rio Grande 1-0 in the opener behind a magnificent pitching performance from Maddi Evans, before capping off the afternoon with a 5-3 triumph over RV University of the Cumberlands.
Coupled with their victories over Arizona Christian back on January 31, the Trojans have now won four straight games over teams receiving votes in the Top-25.
In a classic pitchers’ duel in which the two teams combined for just three hits, Evans (2-2) dazzled in the first game, stifling the Red Storm (1-4) in her second complete-game effort of the young season. The sophomore hurler allowed just one hit and seven baserunners in the contest, striking out a season-high 10 batters in the process. In 21.2 innings pitched, Evans leads the Trojans’ pitching rotation with 22 strikeouts.
Emma West continued to make her presence felt at the top of the lineup, collecting both of Taylor’s hits. The freshman shortstop has been excellent at the plate in TU’s first ten games, collecting at least one hit in seven of those 10 contests.
After three scoreless innings to start, the Trojans scored their lone run of the game in the fourth frame on a Rio Grande error. Cassy Lewis reached first on a fielder’s choice, before coming around to score moments later on a misplayed fly ball in center field.
That turned out to be all the offense that Taylor needed. After striking out seven batters in the first four innings, Evans continued to lock down the Rio Grande offense, collecting three more punch outs in the final three frames and escaping a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to secure the one-run victory.
Against the host Patriots, TU opened the scoring in the second frame to grab an early lead. Evans struck out swinging, but a passed ball allowed Erin Cozad to score from third base.
After UC (2-4) tied the game up in the bottom half of the second with a solo home run, the Trojans regained the advantage for good in the fifth. With one out and two runners on, Lauren Kanai delivered, scoring both West and Lexi Abruzzo with a two-run double. Kanai leads the Trojans with 14 RBI so far this season.
Abruzzo added some insurance with a two-run single in the sixth to increase TU’s lead to three. The Patriots were able to get one run back in the final inning, but they would not get any closer.
Kanai (4-0) earned the win, allowing five hits and only one run while striking out four in the first four innings. Jessica Doctor, in her first appearance in the circle in 2020, put together a solid performance, giving up four hits and two runs in the final three frames.
Taylor rediscovered its offensive groove against UC, finishing the game with eight hits. Kanai and Kara Tucker each finished with two, while Abruzzo, Cozad, Evans, and Ashton Whitman each collected one.